The Utah Jazz raised two fingers in the air as they walked off the court. Rudy Gobert had just denied New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram’s game-tying attempt at the rim—the second game in a row the center’s defense had sealed a victory for the squad—and Gobert’s teammates wanted to salute the NBA’s two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) January 7, 2020
“I think they took it as peace out,” point guard Emmanuel Mudiay said. “We were just encouraging our teammate.”
It’s a sign of respect the Jazz have been showing Gobert since Mudiay started doing it in practice last month.
“Two weeks ago, someone said ‘two times’ … and they started to do it more and more,” Gobert said after shootaround Wednesday. “All of a sudden the whole team does it. It was great. It really shows our chemistry. Guys are really taking pride in what we’re doing.”
The two-time origin story is a familiar one for people who challenge Gobert at the rim.
“He blocked me in practice one time and then he told me, ‘You might want to take the jump shot,’” Mudiay said Wednesday. “I told him, ‘That’s why you’re the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.’
“I had to start the chant ‘two-time.’ It’s the anthem now. You just got to hold up the two every time he does something big in crunch time.”
Gobert is top-10 in blocks (62) and defensive rating (100.7), third in defensive win shares (2.4) and second in defensive rebounds (365).
But if Mudiay had a vote, the two-time salute would be different next season.
“He’s been huge,” the guard said. “In my opinion, I think he should get [the award] again. He’s been making big plays after big plays for us. We’re definitely a different team without him.”
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 7, 2020