In his return to Salt Lake City, Rudy Gobert admitted that there will be “a lot of emotions” as he is slated to face the Utah Jazz while wearing a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey.
“There’s probably going to be a lot of emotions, but I just want to enjoy the moment and get a win,” Gobert told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I spent nine years of my life there and created a lot of memories, have a lot of very powerful relationships with people that I love and gave me a lot of love over the years. It’s going to be weird to walk into the arena and go to the visitors locker room, but it’s going to be probably a lot of love and a lot of joy to come back.”
Gobert will collide against the Jazz for the second time around this 2022-2023 season, but the Friday showdown can only offer overwhelming vibes due to the fact that he’ll play in front of the Vivint Arena for the first time upon being traded last offseason.
Before parting ways with the franchise, the French tower developed itself from being a lanky center into a defensive powerhouse, garnering three Defensive Player of the Year honors while helping Utah to reach six-straight playoff appearances from 2017 to 2022.
The Jazz landed a historic haul from Gobert, taking a loaded package of Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and rookie Walker Kessler as well as four future first-round picks from the Timberwolves.
Though his main aspiration of winning a championship with the Jazz didn’t materialize into reality, he cannot deny the fact that situations will remain as business at the end of the day in the association. But more than anything else, he is grateful for the memories and personal legacy he cemented for being a Jazzman.
“Spending nine years there is obviously something that I’ll never forget, but at the same time, you’ve always got to be aware that it’s a business,” said Gobert. “That’s the way I see it. My dream was always to bring a championship to Utah. Some people didn’t believe that could happen, and it’s fair. It’s totally fair. It’s part of their job to do what they think is best for the team.
“Now, I’m in another place, but it doesn’t change the human side of it. When I say that, I think it’s bigger than just basketball. I gave my soul to this team, this city, this organization, my blood, sweat and tears, [and] there are some things that go beyond the business of basketball. That’s why I [thought] we’d be here forever. Now, I’m in a new place with the opportunity to accomplish great things, and I’m always going to be grateful for those nine years in Utah.”