Rudy Gobert Discusses Race Relations Living in Utah After Donovan Mitchell's Comments

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2022

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (left) and teammate Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) have a discussion during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)
AP Photo/Matt Kelley

Last month, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell told Marc J. Spears of Andscape that some of the racial issues he experienced while living in Utah as a member of the Jazz were "draining."

On Thursday, his former teammate Rudy Gobert—now with the Minnesota Timberwolves—was asked during an interview with Tania Ganguli of the New York Times whether he had tough experiences as a Black player in Utah.

He responded:

"My family and I never had any bad experiences. I've always had a lot of love over there. But I can understand, for me being an NBA player and for a young Black man that's maybe the only Black guy in his school, treatment can be different. People talk about Utah, but it's similar everywhere when there's not a lot of diversity. It's part of every society in the world that people that can be marginalized for being different color of skin, different religion. There's always going to be kids at school that's going to bully people for being different."

Mitchell said he struggled not seeing many Black faces in the crowd at Jazz games, something he hasn't experienced in Cleveland. He also said he was once pulled over by a police officer and given attitude until he showed him his ID and struggled hearing about Black children being bullied because of their race.

"It's no secret there's a lot of stuff that I dealt with being in Utah off the floor. If I'm being honest with you, I never really said this, but it was draining," he told Spears. "It was just draining on my energy just because you can't sit in your room and cheer for me and then do all these different things. I'm not saying specifically every fan, but I just feel like it was a lot of things."

Mitchell and Gobert spent five seasons together in Utah, making the postseason each year. But whereas Mitchell's Cavs are thriving this season, going 22-13 thus far, Gobert's Timberwolves have limped to a 16-19 start.