Rudy Gobert's Encore 2019 Defensive Player of the Year campaign LP

Time for an Encore: Jazz launch Rudy Gobert's Defensive Player of the Year campaign with commemorative vinyl

by Aaron Falk

Rudy Gobert owned records, just not any vinyl.

Until now.

“My mom probably has a record player,” he said. “I might need to get one.”

The Utah Jazz this week kicked off Gobert’s 2019 Defensive Player of the Year push by releasing Gobert/Encore 2019. The decorative album—a fitting tribute to a modern star with throwback sensibilities—was sent to roughly 100 NBA awards voters.

For the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, dominance on the court is still the backbeat of his campaign. The Jazz have the second-ranked defense in the league, and Gobert is the team’s anchor. The 7-footer from Saint-Quentin, France, ranks first in the NBA in defensive win shares (5.53) and second in total blocks (179). And that’s just scratching the surface.

“He’s like a one-man wrecking crew in a lot of ways,” LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of Gobert. “Sometimes it doesn’t show up in numbers. I think most of his stuff doesn’t show up in numbers. You can clearly see the blocks, but you can’t see the change of thought. There’s no stat for that. There should be a stat—a Rudy stat—where you can see a guy decide not to go in the paint anymore.”

The commemorative LP will highlight that and more.

The creation of Gobert’s Encore campaign started before the All-Star break. The Jazz creative team wanted to pay tribute to the Utah Jazz name through a classic jazz album. They looked at the works of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and some of the iconic Blue Note Records releases before settling on John Coltrane’s “Prestige 7105.”

“There’s an intimidating stare that Coltrane has in that photo that I think fits Rudy’s demeanor,” Utah Jazz art director Ben Barnes said.

On February 25, local photographer Chad Kirkland turned a room at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus into a studio with a jazz lounge vibe.

“I like the ambiance,” Gobert said as a smoke machine filled the room with a haze. “It’s really cool.”

Gobert, in a dark turtle neck and light suit, recreated the classic Coltrane look with the help of a Cannonball saxophone.

The track listing for Encore is full of reminders of the center’s approach to defending on the court: “Selflessness,” “Pursuance,” “Double Time.”

The gold-colored albums were pressed at United Record Pressing in Nashville, Tenn., the same company that pressed Bob Dylan's “Highway 61 Revisited,” Jay-Z's " The Black Album” and Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue.” The jackets were printed at Dorado Music Packaging in Los Angeles.

Winning the 2018 Defensive Player of the Year Award was an emotional experience for Gobert.

“It was something I always dreamed of,” he said. “I always wanted to be one of the best, make a mark on the history of the game. For me, for my country, for my family. It’s something that no one can take away from me. It’s something that will always be there forever.”

And winning the award again would be special.

“It would mean a lot,” Gobert said. “It’s something I take a lot of pride in doing, in being the best defensive player in the world, in helping my teammates every night. It’s something that’s becoming rare nowadays. Defense is so important for helping your team win games and for the game in general.”

For now, Gobert will keep his 2018 award on a shelf in his home.

“But there’s room for more,” he said. “There’s a lot of room.”

Room for a record player.

Room for another trophy.

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