“Grenouille,” Gobert said, correcting him with his charming French accent.
Gobert immersed himself into extensive English studies a couple of years ago, knowing he’d be leaving France to play in the NBA. There are occasional times when he needs Clark’s help when they’re out and about and he can’t quite understand what’s being said.
“Sometimes when I don’t remember something, I’ll ask him,” Gobert said.
Clark is impressed. “For the most part, he gets it.”
Both players are still trying to get a better feel of being an NBA player, which isn’t easy for newcomers trying to make their mark and prove they belong. Sometimes their coaches want them to say the basketball equivalent of “grenouille” and all they can remember is “gunwee.”
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin has been patient and given them both credit for trying and improving.
“It’s a rough start,” Gobert said, “but I think I’m getting it pretty good.”
Clark didn’t have the benefit of playing with the Jazz this past summer like Gobert, and the former Belmont standout said it’s been a challenge adjusting to a new city, set of teammates and style of play. The sharpshooter, signed by Utah after being named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP, remains hopeful that he’ll work his way into the playing mix.
“That’s one of my goals — to be able to have an established role on this team,” Clark said. “I want to help any way possible. Whatever coach needs me to do, I’ll be ready to do. That’s just my mindset — to work hard and be ready.”
In the meantime, the young man from Memphis will continue to experience Utah at times with the young man from France. There’s a long NBA season to be played — and they hope to get minutes like fellow rookie Trey Burke — but they’ve talked about taking a trip to France next summer.
In the more immediate future, Clark has some plans for when Gobert visits his and Elvis' old stomping grounds later this year.
“I might have to introduce him to barbecue,” he said.
The rookies have managed to do a cultural cuisine exchange in Salt Lake City. Clark tasted canard at The Paris restaurant, while Gobert chowed down on some grits at the Park Café.
Clark hasn’t refined his palate to the point of trying escargot yet, but he was pleasantly surprised by the duck.
“It was good, actually,” he said. “Just like chicken a little bit.”
Or, as they might say in France, just like grenouilles a little bit.
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