SALT LAKE CITY — Like many of his opponents have tried to do over the past few years, Utah Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay went to the rim during a recent practice only to have a familiar result.
Rudy Gobert rejected him.
“You might want to take the jump shot,” Gobert told Mudiay.
Responded Mudiay: “That’s why you’re the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.”
With that, Mudiay created a team tradition. Now when Gobert makes a key defensive play, his teammates will hold up two fingers to signify “two-time,” taking note of how many DPOY awards he’s won.
“In my opinion he should get it again,” Mudiay said Wednesday after the Jazz’s shootaround ahead of their game against Mudiay’s former team, the New York Knicks. “He’s just been making big play after big play for us. We’re definitely a different team without him, so I had to start the chant ‘two-time.’”
“It’s an anthem now. You’ve just got to hold up the two every time he does something big in crunch time.”
Gobert certainly came up big in crunch time Monday on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans, as he denied Brandon Ingram at the rim with time running low to preserve the Jazz’s 128-126 win, their sixth straight and 11th in 12 games.
As Utah players left the court, they flashed the sign, which Mudiay clarified Wednesday was in support of Gobert and not a message of disrespect to the Pelicans.
“We was holding as ‘two-time,’ but I think they took it as ‘peace out,’” Mudiay said. “They didn’t know what we was talking about, so I’m pretty sure when we go back over there they’re going to feel some type of way, but we were just encouraging our teammate.”
Said Gobert on Wednesday: “It was great. It really shows our chemistry. Guys are really taking pride in what we do.”
As much as the sign has caught on, Mudiay wants it to change next season after the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year award is given out.
“I hope three is on the way.”