The Utah Jazz has sought to build its team around two of their top players, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Gobert is the Jazz’s 7-foot-1 center, hailing from Saint-Quentin, France. Gobert’s younger counterpart is the 6-foot-1 shooting guard, Mitchell. The top two Jazz players were also the first two NBA players to test positive for coronavirus.
A rift was brewing between the pair before COVID-19. But an even bigger one has emerged since. It looks like it may not be wise for Utah to bank on building the team around two players who can’t see eye to eye. Let’s see what Gobert and Mitchell’s beef is all about.
COVID-19 creates a rift between two Jazz stars
The French basketball star, Gobert, was the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19 back in March. However, he did not take his diagnosis or the virus very seriously.
The day before his diagnosis, Gobert purposely touched all the microphones during a press conference, poking fun at the recent social-distancing protocols. The day after Gobert’s positive test result, his teammate Mitchell tested positive, too.
The 23-year-old was more than upset by Gobert’s careless behavior reports ESPN. The pair did not talk for months following the test results, despite repeated attempts on Gobert’s part. However, the rift between Utah’s powerhouses was brewing long before the coronavirus pandemic.
Conflict on and off the court?
Gobert is the Jazz’s best player. However, Mitchell is the team’s biggest star. This naturally causes some tension between the Jazz players. Gobert has even gone so far as to criticize Mitchell’s style of play.
Gobert is five years older than Mitchell and has had a bit longer to perfect his craft. Mitchell is still a developing playmaker, where Gobert is more polished in that department. This discrepancy causes frustration for Gobert over the last few seasons, according to Yahoo Sports.
Setting conflict aside to win inside the NBA bubble
Despite the conflict between Gobert and Mitchell, the pair hopes to put their feelings aside to win games in the NBA restart. Gobert told Bleacher Report in April, “Me and my teammates, it’s far from perfect, but at the end of the day we both want the same thing and it’s winning. We’re both grown men and we’re both going to do what it takes to win.”
With a few more months to cool off, Mitchell is in agreement with Gobert. Mitchell recently told ESPN, “Right now we’re good, We’re going out there ready to hoop.”
The two Jazz stars have an uphill battle waiting for them in Orlando, especially with their teammate Bojan Bogdanovic out for the season following successful wrist surgery.
Bogdanovic was averaging 20 points per game for the Jazz before the season stopped due to COVID-19. With the loss of Bogdanovic, Gobert and Mitchell’s need to come together is even more crucial. Only time will tell if these two are ready to set aside their differences.