Upon graduation, he nodded that he was ready to describe in detail his emergence as the face of the new coronavirus in American sports, a physically and emotionally taxing stretch during which he fought the coronavirus and received harsh criticism for careless behavior leading to its positivity. test.
“The media portrayed it as the way I forced the closure of the NBA,” Gobert said gently in an extended interview with The Washington Post on Friday. “Instead of saying it was a pandemic, Rudy Gobert was positive. For many people who don’t think more than what’s just on their faces, they actually thought I brought the coronavirus to the US. “
Gobert, a self-describing anecdote, smiled at the thought, but he didn̵7;t joke.
‘I know who I am’
It’s only a matter of time before someone was marked with the sports tag “Patient Zero”.
By early March, California and Ohio states and local governments had begun putting pressure on NBA and NHL teams to empty their fan arenas by watching the coronavirus break football and basketball leagues abroad. When NBA commissioner Adam Silver watched the changes in the U.S. and abroad, some owners argued that the league should not leave the business with billions in revenue.
The waiting point was March 11, when Gobert’s test was positive for coronavirus before he was in Oklahoma City. Medical officials abruptly stopped the Jazz game against the Thunder that night and within a few hours Silver stopped the NBA season indefinitely. The NHL, MLB and MLS followed suit briefly, leaving fans and television networks blank calendars.
Public health officials inspired relief: the immediate cessation of the sport meant that hundreds of games would not take place indoors in front of tens of thousands of fans. For a country still struggling with social isolation and home isolation, it was a critical step.
Instead of “recovering quickly,” Gobert received an avalanche of criticism. Just before the positive test, Gobert was captured by touching a desk full of journalist microphones at the camera. The clip has been viewed millions of times on social media, so angry and fearful observers have concluded that Gobert has ignored the NBA’s early guidelines of social isolation and is endangering others. Worse, jazz guards Donovan Mitchell and Detroit Pistons striker Christian Wood later maintained close ties with Gobert.
Gobert admitted on Friday that the video made him look like “someone who doesn’t care about other people’s safety or life.” In March, he quickly proposed amendments, issued an apology, filmed a public service announcement, and donated $ 500,000 to support a coronavirus force in Utah, Oklahoma, and his native France.
“It was hard for me to see so many people questioning my character based on one video,” Gobert said. “It was a huge learning experience. I know who I am. The people around me know who I am. Everyone will have a different perception and opinion of you. If I start putting my energy into it, I will live a very painful life. “
Nevertheless, the rainfall was heavy. Mitchell told Good Morning America that “it took me some time to relax” and that he didn’t interact with Gobert at first after their positive tests. The potential impact of the virus on athletes has cast doubt on their partnership. Gobert, 28, spent his entire career in Utah, becoming defensive player of the year and in 2016. Signed a four-year, $ 102 million contract. The next nine-digit deal is likely to happen in 2021, but all of this has suddenly been called into question. Will Mitchell forgive him? If not, would jazz be forced to explore trade?
Gobert chose not to defend himself, in part because he had more immediate concerns. His initial symptoms, which felt like a cold, worsened when he returned to Utah. He lost his sense of taste and smell, and his fingers began to tingle. Gobert recalled that mental challenges and fears were as bad as physical consequences, and that concerns about “my life and family” sparked thoughts about his career. His mother Corrine was trapped in France alone at a time when international travel was not advisable or impossible.
“The hardest part was being away from my mother,” Gobert said reluctantly, noting that the mother and son had been separated from their lives for the longest time. “I didn’t want her to come because I didn’t know if I was still contagious or not. I still haven’t seen my mom because it all happened. It’s something I don’t really like to talk about, but she supported me a lot because I was very young. Just knowing how excited she was and not being able to be with me mentally it was pretty hard. “
Goberto’s chef and personal assistant began to help until he recovered. Friends and family couldn’t make the negative headlines go away, but they tried to comfort Gobert by reminding him that another week of professional sports would only have led to the spread of the virus.
He tried to put together how he got infected with the virus, concluding that it most likely happened on a trip to New York, Boston, or Detroit. He wondered how it was possible that other Jazz members did not investigate the positive result, given that he shared wardrobes with his teammates and massaged from the team staff. After recovering, he concluded that he was probably not the first NBA player to be infected with the virus – only the first returned a positive test. He could have been careless with microphones, but Mitchell or Wood could have easily affected him with a virus, not the other way around.
Although Gobert admitted that in discussing his mental health, “it is difficult for me to be vulnerable,” he “experienced some things that people do not know.” The period was so complicated that he didn’t feel ready to play when the bubble concept gained traction in April.
“I was still in the wrong state of mind to play basketball,” Gobert said. “It simply came to our notice then. As things went, we had meetings and learned more about the virus, I started to feel better mentally and physically. The main concern of most of us was to make sure they not only spent us playing and accumulating money, and didn’t take care of their health. I felt better over time [and dialogue] with the NBA and [National Basketball Players Association]. “
American professional sports has gradually returned this month, and the NBA plans to resume the season on Thursday. At the opening of Bubble, Gobert and Jazz will play the New Orleans Pelicans, a symbol of the full circle of basketball tours over the past four plus months.
Gobert had time to think about his coronavirus brush and his role as team leader. Perhaps he was “too sincere” in communicating with teammates in the past. Maybe he turned out to be “always negative” when he asked for the ball or shouted defensive instructions.
After finishing so many obsessive words, he drew attention to his communication. He wants to be a “competitive” leader who can “say” [teammates] things you don’t want to hear ”while trying to“ throw yourself into other people’s shoes ”. Following this theme, Gobert chose to wear the word “equality” on his no. 27 T-shirts using the NBA Black Lives Matter initiative.
The Jazz came back together for a few weeks to prepare for the playoffs. Mitchell and Gobert joined alley-oop and high-five players on Monday. In Gobert’s mind, most of the Jazz’s inner moments are in the past.
“When it all happened, [Mitchell] was disappointed, ”said Gobert. “I’m disappointed. I really wanted to make sure everything was fine for him. There was certainly no intention of engaging in conflict or arguing. [After time passed]I was able to call him and tell him what came to my mind and he did the same. I think men should do that. Don’t advertise business in the media. People saw this as something that could destroy a group. I see this as something that could make the group even stronger. If you manage to get back out of it, we won’t worry about the team beating us or the bad defensive quarter. It gives perspective. “
After four months of testing, Gobert said he is now physically healthy and mentally “in a great place.” He hasn’t fully regained his sense of smell, but feels safe in the bubble and hopes the sport will be able to fill the vacuum that first appeared in March.
“If the NBA doesn’t work, the world doesn’t function the same way,” he said. “It’s not the same way it used to be, but basketball is our life. When you take this away from us, something will be missing. It seems empty. “
The NBA community is still adapting to its new reality. Players have set up shop at three Disney hotels, wearing masks when they work out and after games in the shower. Disinfecting wipes are always available for the hands; journalists ’microphones are at a safe social distance.
Long basketball trips are about to begin, and the first player to open the night touching the ball may be the same player whose positive test prompted Silver to stop play in March. Even because of the creation of basketball sounds and the fear of the coronavirus, Gobert was focused on decency.
“We all tend to value people without knowing them,” he said. “You watch us play basketball every day, but you don’t know who we are, what we’ve been through, what we’re going through. Meet people. Go deeper. You can spread a lot of positive messages [on social media] but you can also spread hatred and judgment. You have a choice. “