SALT LAKE CITY — It isn’t uncommon for Rudy Gobert to say or tweet something edgy or humorous, and this week was no exception.
“Seriously thinking about changing nationality,” Gobert tweeted in English and French along with some laughing face emojis on Thursday.
The message wasn’t serious. Gobert is fiercely proud of France and isn’t going to pledge his patriotic allegiance elsewhere. Rather, the tweet carried a facetious tone in reference to the NBA’s revelation that Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was in second place behind Kevin Durant in the fan voting for this year’s All-Star starters.
Gobert — not to mention about every other center in the West — has a much better All-Star portfolio than Pachulia despite not ranking among the top 10 frontcourt players in the Western Conference. The Stifle Tower leads the NBA in individual offensive rating and defensive rating and in blocked shots.
The reason why Pachulia is even in this conversation, as he was last year, is because the native Georgian is receiving oodles of votes from his fellow countrymen.
Gobert, who would certainly love a similar outpour of support from the French, laughed about it on Friday.
“I think it’s great. His country is showing support,” Gobert said of Pachulia. “Whatever he does on the court, I think it’s great to see that (support).”
Gobert received at least two votes from NBA players. The 7-foot-1 center admitted he voted for himself and for Gordon Hayward on Thursday when Jazz players submitted their votes.
“I think he’s better than and he deserves it more than some guys,” Gobert said of Hayward. “We’re (fifth) in the West, so why not?”
The 10 starters will be chosen by votes from fans (50 percent), a media panel (25 percent) and players (25 percent).
Hayward returned the favor, which one could argue is legit considering the seasons they’re both putting together.
“Did I vote for Zaza? No,” Hayward responded to a sarcastic question. “I voted for my teammates.”
Gobert, who’s second in the league in field-goal percentage, admits he’d be honored to be included in the All-Star Game, something that would have to happen via the coaches’ voting for reserves unless France picks up the pace.
“That would be great,” Gobert said. “I know the main focus is the team, winning games, but of course everybody wants to be an All-Star for sure.”
SPOTLIGHT, SCHMOTLIGHT: The Jazz’s game against the Pistons on Friday night was broadcast on ESPN, but that national TV audience didn’t exactly move Hayward to do cartwheels.
“The only difference is it’s a late game,” he said, “so I get a little bit longer of a nap.”
Hayward isn’t necessarily basking in the extra-exposure glory now that the Jazz are being noticed around the league, either. He’s much more focused on his game and team than getting attention.
Added Hayward: “I couldn’t care either way.”
POSTER BOYS: Hayward and Gobert are featured on some billboards around town as part of the Jazz’s efforts to entice local fans to vote for their potential All-Stars.
“It’s always fun to see yourself on a billboard, for sure,” Gobert said.
Hayward has had mixed feelings about seeing himself on billboards over the years.
“I really appreciate what the Jazz have done for me to try to advertise,” he said, “and to try to get me into the All-Star Game.”Comment on this story
It’s still bizarre for him to see larger-than-life versions of himself plastered around town, but not as odd as it used to be when he came to Salt Lake City as a 20-year-old out of Butler in 2010. It caught him off guard to see himself with his teammates on a billboard the first time.
“It’s definitely weird to see yourself.”