NBA

Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert Gives $500,000 to Coronavirus Relief

Rudy Gobert probably still has a long way to go in winning back the respect of some of his Utah Jazz teammates, but he took another step toward regaining credibility with fans and two NBA communities Saturday by announcing a substantial charitable donation.

Gobert revealed his intention to distribute $500,000 to assist people being affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rudy Gobert created a mess with childish actions

Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Wednesday shortly before the Utah Jazz were scheduled to tip off in Oklahoma City against the Thunder, and teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for COVID-19 when the rest of the team was checked later that night.

Gobert’s positive test resulted in the NBA suspending its season indefinitely. Other professional sports leagues followed suit and the NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in addition to calling off spring sports.

Two days before becoming the first NBA player to be diagnosed, Gobert ended a meeting with reporters after the team’s shootaround by touching every microphone and recording device as he left. The act mocking the seriousness of the virus outbreak came back to haunt when his test results came back Wednesday.

It was also reported that Gobert had been careless in the Jazz locker room prior to Monday by touching players and their belongings, raising the possibility that Gobert could have been directly responsible for Mitchell’s illness.

Rudy Gobert’s apology was a start

Once Donovan Mitchell was diagnosed, Rudy Gobert issued an apology for his careless behavior and explained that he had no idea he’d been infected with the coronavirus.

The 7-foot-1 center who is in his seventh NBA season said he’d experienced “fear, anxiety, and embarrassment.”

“I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus.”

Rudy Gobert steps up to help

Rudy Gobert is in the third season of a four-year contract valued at more than $96 million, so he seemingly is in position to make a significant financial gesture to further atone for his actions. He did just that on Saturday be announcing a plan to distribute $500,000 to assist people being affected by the pandemic.

Gobert pledged $200,000 to the more than 800 part-time employees of Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City where the Jazz play their home games. That will help soften the blow while the NBA determines if or when it can resume its season.

He also earmarked $200,000 to be used to help families affected by the coronavirus in Utah and Oklahoma City. The remaining $100,000 has been designated to assist with efforts in his native France.

“I am humbled by the tireless efforts and care of people around the globe for those affected by COVID-19, especially my own communities of Utah and France. … These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference.”