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“The objective is to win the title”

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Present in video from Salt Lake City as part of his partnership with Yop, which enabled him to collect a pot of nearly 62,000 euros for the renovation of the Saint-Quentin site, Rudy Gobert took the time to answer questions in any kind. The Saint-Quentinois notably recalled that the Jazz had only one idea in mind during these NBA play-offs: to go to the end.

Rudy Gobert, how do you approach these play-offs (interview carried out before the first match of the series), with the vagueness which hovers on the side of Dallas on the participation of Luka Doncic?
We focus on ourselves and we prepare as if he was going to play. Especially since we are convinced that even if he does not play the first game (which he did), he will come back during the series. The important thing is that you are physically and mentally ready. We also know that this is not just the story of a match. We have to win four, and we know he (Doncic) will come back sooner or later.

Do you have the feeling that the future of Jazz may depend on these play-offs?
It’s possible. Anyway, our future, individually and collectively, is always played out in the play-offs. And since there is a lot of waiting, this can generate disappointment. In the NBA, no matter what, there are always movements, teams trying to improve. We’ve been lucky to keep a strong group over the past few years. We are focused on the moment and on our desire to try to do something in these play-offs. It’s when these play-offs are over that the big teams try to improve their workforce. These questions will arise as every year after the play-offs. For the moment, our objective is to win.

Collectively, where does Utah stand?
We are in a great state of mind. The ups and downs we have had this season have helped us grow and get to know each other even better. We’ll see how it goes, but we’re all very impatient to return to the play-offs with big goals for this end of the season. We are in a very good state of mind.

What is the minimum objective for you in these play-offs?
There really isn’t a floor. We know where we want to go and we will see how things evolve. But of course we want to go to the NBA finals and win the title. This has been our goal for a few years, and nothing has changed this season.

“The general public is starting to respect me more and more”

Do you feel that people’s perception of you in the United States is changing?
I do not really know. I’m an outgoing person, I don’t post a lot on the networks and don’t talk a lot. So most people don’t really know me, other than the mainstream media they follow. Already, I play in Utah. Besides, I’m French and I’m not the flashiest player in the universe either… All of this means that people don’t really know me. I’am aware. Despite everything, I feel that in the United States, the general public is starting to respect me more and more. The perception may not be at the level of reality, but I still feel that there is progress.

Legends like Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade came to your defense last week. What did you think of it?
I saw, but anyway, everyone has their opinion. We are constantly trying to improve, that’s what I also do to try to help my team. Trust has to be earned, and that’s what I try to do.

Did you expect the Lakers to miss each other?
No, honestly, I thought they would make the play-offs. They had a lot of adversity, a few injuries, and they also had a new squad. Sometimes it takes time for the mayonnaise to set. It was a bit of a complicated season for them, that’s for sure, but it’s the NBA, it happens.

Will you participate in the Euro?
For now, I’m in the play-offs. For the rest, I haven’t made my decision yet, so we’ll see how I feel psychologically and physically.

“The AccorArena would be full every night”

How would you like to soon become one of only three players in NBA history to win the title of best defenseman for the fourth time?
It would be a pride. When you look at my journey, when you see where I started from, already, winning one, it was not won (he smiles). So if I’m lucky enough to win four, five or even six, that would be great. Whatever happens, the important thing for me is to try to be the best Rudy I can be on and off the pitch. Then if these people decide that I deserve more defender of the year awards, so be it.

Who would you personally vote for as Season MVP?
There are clearly three candidates: Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. For me, the way Jokic has carried his team this season makes him deserving of MVP. He really played a lot of games, in terms of impact and consistency, for me he is the MVP.

What do you think of the controversy around the choice of the basketball tournament hall for the Paris 2024 Games?
It’s good that there were conversations (laughs). I wet myself publicly, but the important thing is above all the internal conversations. We had some, and it’s good that they realized that the number 1 sport in the world should not be put in such conditions for the Olympic Games. In the organization of the Olympics, there are many things and sports to take into consideration and it is not necessarily easy. We just hope that the basketball players who come from all over the world for the Olympics will be treated with a little more respect.

Would you agree to play outside of Paris and not be housed in the Olympic Village?
I hope it will be in Paris. We have a magnificent room, which is called the AccorArena. It would be full every night like that (snaps his fingers) if we played the basketball tournament at the Olympic Games. Why not.

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