Gobert: « Something special »

Yop’s ambassador in the NBA, Rudy Gobert has not struggled for nothing this season on the floor of Jazz. As part of the “Change the game” scheme, the 109 successful home counters by the French hub with Utah enabled Yop to donate 54,500 euros to the Rudy’s Kids Foundation for the children of Secours Populaire. In the second part of this interview, the recent Olympic vice-champion looks back on these historic Olympics which saw the Blues only stumble on the last step. The Jazz interior also projects into the upcoming NBA season for Jazz.

As part of the solidarity action « Change the game » launched last December by Yop, and the result of the partnership between the brand and the Rudy’s Kids Foundation, the cons successfully completed by Rudy Gobert at home with Utah (109) enabled Yop to donate 54,500 euros (500 euros on the other hand succeeded by « Gobzilla ») to the Rudy’s Kids Foundation and, by extension, for popular relief. The recent Olympic vice-champion with the Blues comes back for us on the pleasure of having been able to contribute to the fate of many young people. In this second part of the interview, he goes back to the Tokyo Olympics which saw the native of Saint-Quentin and the France team stumble on the last step despite a wonderful journey that marked history. French basketball.

Rudy Gobert, are your tears of the Tokyo Olympics final being digested today or do you still have this defeat against the United States on the last step across your throat?
It’s sport. When you are in the competition, when you realize that you are that far from an Olympic medal, it is disappointment. But looking back, when I look at how much we were able to make people and young people love it, and how we were able to inspire them, in the end, I am really happy with the experience and the journey. Once again, the result is important, of course, but so is the way and what we experienced as a team, with this image of solidarity and determination. We have shown that we are not afraid of anything, and that everything is quite simply possible. I hope that’s what people will remember in the end.

Were you aware of the popular enthusiasm that you created in France during these Games or did you only become aware of it when you arrived at the Trocadéro on your return from Tokyo?
No, it was when we came back to France that we really realized. On the networks, you can realize a little, but it is really when we returned to France that we could see that we had done something special.

Did this defeat in the final and your tears, you who are not the type to let your emotions show through, really overshadow your extraordinary journey during these Games, with in particular this feat against the USA in the first match?
No, we will remember the emotions that we transmitted to people and, of course, this journey. It is true that I am quite protective of my emotions. People even tend to think that I don’t have emotions because I never show them (laughs), so when I decide to show them, they’re surprised. I am someone who feels a lot. Mostly, I don’t like to lose, I like to win. Obviously, there are great moments of joy, but also disappointments. In the end, that’s what makes the story so beautiful.

As soon as you arrived in Japan, seeing the training and the atmosphere in the group, did you feel that there was even better to do than this third place at the 2019 Worlds in China, where you had already beaten the Americans?
As I said from the start, our goal was the gold medal. There is no point in going into a competition without aiming for the gold medal. We have become too accustomed to doing that in France. It is really a state of mind that I want to convey and that I want us to have as a team. Even if we did not have the gold medal, I hope that people believed in it as we believed in it, and that we were of course able to convey once again this mentality that anything is possible, everything simply.

Gobert: « There has never been a negative reaction, it’s rare … »

Aiming for the gold medal is one thing, but above all you have to show your supporters at the outset that they could be caught dreaming …
Yes, because we had a group that knew where we wanted to go. We had a tight-knit group. Whatever happens, we never gave up. However, we had difficult times, times when we could have relaxed. There have been games where some have played more than others, games where there are some that did not have the ball. But in the end, there was never a negative reaction, I can tell you, and that is rare in an international competition and even in professional sport, quite simply. And when we see that in the end, it comes down to one action in the semi-finals (against Slovenia by Luka Doncic) and that even against Italy in the quarter-finals, it comes down to a few actions… That’s what which is our strength and that is what we want to continue to build on over the coming years.

In Tokyo, with the other French collective sports teams, did you have fun getting out of your way as you progressed and your respective courses progressed?
We were in the same village and the same building, so we passed each other quite a bit, and we exchanged often. Yeah, it was cool to keep up with the development of other sports and other athletes at the same time. When you turn on the TV and see that there is another team (from France) playing, we all become fans.

Would an Olympic title have been more valuable to you than that famous NBA champion ring that you always run after with Utah?
For me, it’s different, because the NBA ring is not often the reward of a competition or a year but more the reward of nine years of work or ten years of sacrifice. It’s different. But the two are unique and I hope to have both in my career.

How do you explain that last season, you stopped so prematurely once again with Utah (elimination in the Western Conference semifinals against the Clippers)? You had however proved, you the first, during the regular season that it could finally be your year …
Already, the injuries. We didn’t have our point guard (Mike Conley) against the Clippers, and the point guard in basketball, it’s still super important, especially since he had a crazy season. Afterwards, it’s the play-offs. We haven’t gone far, and we still have a young team. But we saw what we had missed to take this step and the objective is to come back stronger and try to cross it.

Gobert: « I hope we will take this step »

On a personal level, have you felt that you were taking another step forward this season, especially in your ability to take charge of the team, especially when you have to deal with absences or injuries?
Yes exactly. And again, everyone continues to learn from their experiences and move forward. But I have confidence and I hope that we will take this step. I hope this year.

Especially since on what you demonstrated last season, we tell ourselves that there is necessarily something going to happen in Utah, as it cannot stop so early each season. In short, we feel that something is being created and that you are close to the goal. Do you agree ?
Yes, it’s true, and that’s what makes it beautiful. The most beautiful things in life are the hardest to achieve. Maybe we’ll get there, maybe not, but anyway, the process of trying and getting close is what’s worth it.

Who do you think you should fear in particular next season on your way? The Lakers, who have just strengthened with the arrival of Westbrook?
No, we focus on us. In the NBA, you have to pay attention to everyone. There are a lot of good teams and a lot of talent in this League, so we stay focused on ourselves to be in the best place in the standings possible. Regardless of the opponent, we will respect him and try to beat him, quite simply.

To find the first part of this interview, click here

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