MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 27: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz speaks with the media after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 27, 2019 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert feels 'disrespected' after being left off NBA All-Star roster

by Aaron Falk

The NBA’s All-Star Game is a showcase with more emphasis on celebrity than substance. But the tears that formed in the corners of Rudy Gobert’s eyes on Friday morning were proof of how much the honor would have meant to him.

The league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year hoped to hear his name called as one of the Western Conference’s seven All-Star reserves on Thursday night. Instead, Gobert turned off his television, frustrated and disrespected by his omission from the list.

“I was surprised,” Gobert said at shootaround on Friday morning. “Obviously, we all know how the league works, the direction the league is heading to. I thought there was a chance I might not make it but just surprised. I think it’s disrespectful. I feel disrespected.”

Gobert leads the league in Win Shares and field goal percentage, proof of his improved offensive abilities. Still, the 7-footer was bothered most by the league’s coaches overlooking the importance of defense.

“It’s disrespectful not only toward me but toward the team, the organization and toward the game,” he said “Because, you know, all the coaches preach about defense. Every day they talk about defense, they talk about how important it is to get stops in order to win basketball games. And when it’s time to vote, they don’t reward the best defensive player in the world.”

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey has said he was “flabbergasted” and “disgusted” by Gobert’s snub. He called his star center on Thursday night to offer his thoughts.

“He just said he was sorry and that it was B.S.,” Gobert said. “They’re going to try to find out what happened.”

Gobert also received a call from his mother.

“My mom called me crying,” he said. “It was tough.”

More than once, Gobert admitted, he opened up his Twitter app and thought about sending a message. But he kept his thoughts to himself for the night.

On Friday morning, though, Gobert was honest and thoughtful about how much it stung.

“The first year, it was OK. I was 24. It was my first year playing well. I thought maybe I have to make a name for myself, earn the respect,” he said. “But I’ve won the Defensive Player of the Year. I should have two, by the way. All-NBA Second Team. And they still don’t give me that respect.

“I’m always going to be about winning. I don’t want to be focused on those things. But at one point, I’d still like to get that recognition.”

Gobert thanked the Utah Jazz and his teammates for their support. He said he would accept an invitation as an injury replacement should the opportunity arise, though he added that “it’s not the same as being selected.”

“It’s my legacy,” Gobert said of his hopes to make an All-Star team. “I don’t even play for money. I don’t care about that All-Star bonus, to be honest. It’s just about my legacy. Everything I do, I do it to win. It would be good if you could get some reward for that.”