Rudy Gobert’s ejection happened so early that it gave the Utah Jazz center plenty of time to think.
So roughly 2.5 hours after he stormed off the court, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year had calmed down and done some self-reflection as he spoke with reporters in the locker room.
“I had a stupid reaction,” he said. “I think I can blame myself more than anything."
Gobert was ejected just 2:47 minutes into Thursday night’s nationally televised matchup with the Houston Rockets. According to ESPN, it was the fastest ejection for a starter in at least 15 years.
The Jazz center was whistled for his first foul during the opening tipoff and was called for a second on what the referees deemed to be too much contact with Rockets guard James Harden under the basket at the 9:13 mark of the opening quarter.
As Gobert walked to the bench, he swiped at a cup of water on the scorer’s table, knocking it into the air and voicing his displeasure to an official. Almost immediately, Gobert said, he realized he’d gone too far.
“I was kind of like, ‘Hopefully it’s just a technical,’” he said. “Just a stupid reaction.”
Gobert wouldn’t get off so easily and was ejected from the game.
“Just frustration,” said Gobert, who earlier this week was fined $15,000 by the NBA for publicly criticizing officials. “I think a lot of frustration.”
Gobert went back to the locker room, jumped on an exercise bike and watched the game on television. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey spoke with Gobert briefly, too.
“He just checked if I was OK,” Gobert said. “I was OK. Just a little frustrated, but it happens. I’m a competitor and I want to win.”
On the court, the Jazz responded with a 118-91 win over the Rockets.
“Very proud of the guys tonight,” Gobert said. “It was a great win.”
Utah’s starting center, meanwhile, said he wants to learn from his mistake Thursday.
“I’ve got to be smarter,” Gobert said. “It didn’t cost the team tonight, but it can cost the team. Losing me in the first quarter is not the smartest thing to do.”