Rudy Gobert spent some time with ESPN basketball writer Zach Lowe during a Lowe Post Podcast this week, and, not surprisingly, The Stifle Tower was an interesting guest.
A refreshingly honest one, too.
After being introduced as the NBA's newly crowned Defensive Player of the Year, Gobert was asked about being All-NBA. He politely reminded Lowe that he wasn't selected this season and then added a little dig at voters.
"Defense doesn't matter enough," Gobert said.
The French center also reiterated that he is very happy in Utah even if the Jazz haven't been able to lure big-name free agents to Swat Lake City over the years.
"It’s true that I haven’t seen a big free agent sign with the Jazz," Gobert said. "To be honest, I love being in Utah so I think most people have the wrong idea about the city, about the place."
That said, the 26-year-old understands why his fellow basketball players — guys who might prefer a hipper nightlife scene — would balk at coming to SLC.
"If I wasn’t playing there I would probably think it’s a ... boring place, but I love to live there," Gobert said. "We still travel a lot so even if I didn’t love it, I'd still be able to enjoy myself wherever I go.
"I’m really grateful to be there. It really fits my personality. I just enjoy it."
He also enjoys playing with Donovan Mitchell, who had the most Rookie of the Year votes among players drafted in 2017. Gobert knew Mitchell was going to be something special when he saw him play during summer league at the University of Utah last July.
"I watched him play against Boston and I watched his mindset, his mentality, playing against (Jayson) Tatum. He was drafted way higher than him (second vs. 13)," Gobert recalled. "I didn't know him before. I don't watch college basketball. I was just thinking, 'I like this kid.' And then I talked to him and I really liked his mentality, his competitiveness. That’s really the thing that takes you to the next level."
During the 42-minute interview, Gobert also discussed the Jazz's we-can-beat-anybody attitude, All-Star ideas, Terry Rozier warning him he's going to dunk on him ("I told him to keep shooting floaters"), fighting Floyd Mayweather, what makes Quin Snyder such a good coach ("He's just a competitor") and, yes, Gordon Hayward.3 comments on this story
After Hayward's decision to bolt for Boston was announced (and re-announced), Gobert told his team, "If he doesn't want to be here, we're going to be better. We're going to be better off without them (guys who leave). We're going to be a better team."
Gobert has talked to Hayward since then, but he still wishes his old teammate would have handled the situation differently.
"I would have wished he would have talked to his teammates a little more and tell us where he was and we would have all supported him," Gobert said. "I was focused on the team, and when something happens you have to move on."