69th NBA All-Star Game
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16: Rudy Gobert #24 of Team Giannis drives to the basket during the 69th NBA All-Star Game on February 16, 2020 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

'This isn't it': All-Star debut is just the beginning for Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell

by Aaron Falk

CHICAGO — Rudy Gobert had a prediction. In a game known for anything but defense, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year figured he’d stand out.

“I think a lot of people will go at me,” he said.

That’s exactly what his teammate wanted to happen.

“I hope somebody tries to dunk on him,” Donovan Mitchell said. “It’s just not going to happen [for anyone who tries]. He’s going to go out there and do his thing.”

Gobert did all that and more in his first NBA All-Star Game.

In the second quarter, the Stifle Tower swatted Lakers forward Anthony Davis’ shot off the backboard. When the ball fell to Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks star tried to challenge Gobert at the rim, only to be turned away, too. A short while later, he used every bit of his 7-9 wingspan to finish a put-back dunk that had his teammates jumping off the bench and onto the court.

“I think the fans love dunks and blocks and behind-the-back passes,” Gobert said when asked whether his game fit the All-Star aesthetic. “You saw that one I had.”

But while Gobert put on a show in his first All-Star game, finishing with 21 points, 11 rebounds and two assists (including one on a behind-the-back pass), the Utah Jazz center and his All-Star teammate Donovan Mitchell aren’t satisfied with just having a good time at the NBA’s midseason extravaganza.

“I don't think you can prove something in an All-Star Game,” Gobert said. “You prove something by winning championships.”

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Their first All-Star introduction

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Gobert and Mitchell certainly enjoyed themselves this weekend in Chicago. The two Jazzmen bounced around the Windy City, attending fan events and parties, rubbing elbows with NBA legends, and doing a little community service, too.

“The first time I got nervous and it really hit me that I’m an All-Star was the first meeting with the team,” Mitchell said. “I grew up watching LeBron, CP, Russ. You’re there with the best guys in the league and you’re one of them.”

Mitchell acquitted himself well on the court, too, scoring seven points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists in a 157-155 loss for their squad.

“For me and Rudy to get here and put on for Utah is really special,” Mitchell said. “We’re overlooked in a lot of things, so for us to be out here and make a name for ourselves is pretty cool.”

But even as they enjoyed the riches of their All-Star experience, the Jazz duo remained focused on the task ahead of them in the second half the season.

“Now we have to keep pushing ourselves,” Mitchell said. “This is obviously a great moment in time, but we keep telling each other this isn’t it.”

“To be here this weekend, it’s great,” Gobert added. “But it doesn’t change the main goal. The goal is to win a championship.”

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CHICAGO! It's been real

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