In mid-March, the sports world stopped.
The Jazz-OKC game was suspended right before tipoff. Later, it was revealed that Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. Then, the NBA season was suspended indefinitely. Next, Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the coronavirus.
In the three months since the NBA season was suspended, rumors swirled about a possible rift between Gobert and Mitchell after both tested positive for COVID-19. In recent days at press conferences, Mitchell and Gobert both have said that they are good and ready to compete together and try to win a championship when the season resumes in Orlando at the end of July.
A recent article by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon provides a look inside the two Jazz stars’ rift and the outcome. MacMahon reveals that Mitchell and Gobert did not have any communication for weeks after the two tested positive.
In the article, Gobert admits that he can be annoying at times while demanding a lot from his teammates, but is so demanding because he’s proud of what the team has built in Utah throughout his career.
“I understand that I’m annoying. I can be very annoying,” Gobert said in the article, adding that he knows Mitchell’s job is difficult as the focal point of defenses. “I think maybe because he was really good, really early, I’ve been very demanding and maybe in not always a positive way. Sometimes you don’t realize it.”
The article also addressed Gobert’s desire to get the ball more often, as he illustrated in a postgame press conference.
Mitchell addressed the relationship between him and Gobert, noting that there is tension.
“For us, it’s like, there’s going to be tension,” Mitchell said. There’s going to be back-and-forth. Obviously, I feel like I should be right here, he feels like he should be right there. But it’s always going to happen. It happens on every team ... So I feel like in a work environment, you’re not going to always get along or go out to eat and hang out with your teammates. So that’s that.”
Gobert insists he is not bothered that Mitchell gets more time in the spotlight, both locally and nationally.
“Donovan has a very bright personality and all that, and the way he plays, he’s more fun to watch than me,” Gobert said, per ESPN. “If I was 12 years old, I wouldn’t want to be watching (expletive) Rudy Gobert. I’d want to watch Donovan Mitchell. I wouldn’t want to watch Rudy Gobert get dunks and alter shots. I’d want to watch Donovan Mitchell cross people up and do crazy layups, crazy dunks, of course.”
At the end of the day, though the relationship isn’t perfect, Gobert and Mitchell respect each other and know how important the other is to the team.
“I think we can accomplish some great things, so that’s the moral of the story,” Gobert is quoted in the ESPN article. “It’s never going to be perfect. Sometimes we’re going to be very happy, and sometimes we’re going to be frustrated with each other. But as long as we, as men, respect each other and keep things between him and myself, and approach it as men, we’re going to be fine.”
You can read the entire story here.