CLEVELAND — Sometimes Utah Jazz center, three-time All-Star and three-time league Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert has to pinch himself to remind himself of how far he’s come from being a skinny boy in France waking up at 3 a.m. to watch the NBA All-Star Game.

“Yesterday I was sitting next to Magic Johnson,” Gobert said on Saturday. “Sometimes when you think about it, it’s like, I used to dream about it...now I’m standing here.”

Gobert will be on Team Durant on Sunday night, facing Team LeBron in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.

LeBron James, in his 19th season in the NBA and still playing at an All-Star level, epitomizes what it means to have longevity in this league, and it’s something that Gobert admires and aspires to.

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“I’m taking great care of myself, just to trying to see how far I can go,” Gobert said. “Whenever I feel like I either can’t play anymore or I lose that competitive edge, then I’ll probably stop it, but for sure I would love to play for 19 years.”

Gobert talked at length about how, now more than ever, NBA players are doing more and more to take care of their bodies, and that while he feels like he’s done a good job, he’s sure that he’ll learn even more along the way.

“I think guys are learning more and more and earlier in their career...I’m still learning and I’m very curious about nutrition and all that kind of stuff,” Gobert said.

“I stopped alcohol during the season very young...You just learn how to get to know yourself, know your body, know your mind. Some guys get it earlier, some guys get it later, but I think it’s important to get it if you want to play to the maximum of your potential.”

At one point a reporter asked if Gobert was aware of who has the record this season for the most game-saving blocks.

Gobert immediately smirked and said he knew exactly who it was — reigning MVP and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

Though Gobert might be a little bitter that he wasn’t able to say he held that distinction, he explained that he’s not surprised because not only is Jokic someone who Gobert has had many battles with, but that he’s someone Gobert respects.

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“He’s a winner,” Gobert said. “I have amazing respect for him. Coming from Europe, being underrated, drafted in the second round, and he earns all of our respect year after year, gets better year after year. I’m just a big fan of him.”

As far as the 2022 All-Star Game goes, Gobert is hoping that he can show off the reps he’s been putting in from beyond the arc.

Everyone was wondering, will Gobert shoot a 3 in the Sunday night showcase?

“Probably,” Gobert said smiling. “We’ll see. I wanted to shoot one last year but I didn’t really have the opportunity, so this year hopefully I can shoot one — maybe two, maybe three — we’ll see how it goes...hopefully I can show it off tomorrow, and if not, in the near future.”

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