The Jazz having ended its painful season with a fiasco, the time is now for the autopsy. In this context, all eyes are obviously on Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, with a revelation about an episode that deeply marked the unity of the Jazz group…
While aiming for the title for several years now, Quin Snyder and his men must face the reality of a Jazz eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, in regression and not frankly on the same wavelength – it is an understatement. Everyone tried to do their part during the end of the season to believe in a utopian run until the NBA Finals, but the step was already too high against the Mavericks of Luka Doncic (loss 2-4).
Now, the entire focus turns to Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, whose complicated relationships have long been well known. During this tumultuous 2021-22 campaign, it turns out that one episode in particular has greatly weakened the ties between the two men.
Rudy Gobert’s claim that Donovan Mitchell has not forgiven
The story dates back to mid-January, when the Jazz had just chained several defeats in the absence of Gobert, in the health protocol. Facing the press, the Frenchman had therefore somewhat shaken up the troops, and insisted on the major point in his eyes: the lack of defensive intensity.
For the moment, we are not at the level required to claim the title. We know very well that when the playoffs come, we’re not just going to be able to snap our fingers and suddenly start communicating, defending correctly on the man, taking rebounds… When I look at certain teams like the Suns or the Warriors, for example, these guys are ahead of us in their winning habits. I feel like every game is personal for them. We can see that Devin Booker is tearing himself up in defense.
Compared to a year or two ago, it has changed. Guys like that, they give themselves and you can see that it’s a matter of pride to defend, to stop their opponent and to do everything they can to stop the team in front and be part of a winning culture. .
A very bad outing with Donovan Mitchell and his camp, as revealed this Friday by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:
The mention of Booker was a defining moment for Mitchell, those close to him, and many at Jazz, who immediately understood how this reference would be received. Whether it was intentional or not (it was not according to Gobert), evoking Booker was taken by everyone as a tackle against Mitchell.
That sentence stirred some people in the Mitchell camp, who felt Gobert violated locker room code by publicly criticizing a teammate.
The famous interview also left its mark in the locker room, since Royce O’Neale and Jordan Clarkson each reacted by siding with Mitchell instead. The streak therefore revived the old grudges between Gobert and Spida, and it was very difficult to imagine such a fractured team having a good run in the playoffs. The future has proven it.
Between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the divorce now seems very close to being recorded. And no doubt this famous interview in mid-January, a drop of water in an ocean of worries, will have had something to do with it…