The reaction to Rudy Gobert crying after finding out he didn’t make the NBA All Star game was a mix of sympathy and scorn. Emmet Ryan on the utter stupidity of those who took issue with Gobert being in tears after addressing the media for the first time following his snub
Best to get the cash out of the way first. $1 million is a lot of money to me and the bulk of people reading this site, it’s also an amount Rudy Gobert understands the value of but in reality is just not what matters to him. He’s on a salary this year none of us could ever dream of earning cumulatively across our lifetimes. This really is not about a bonus.
When Gobert came out to face the media the morning after finding out he didn’t make the All Star game, despite posting numbers more than worthy of it, he was human. Gobert’s early days in the NBA were anything but stellar. He looked stiff as a rookie and his movement was nothing to get excited about. Even in the summer of 2014 with the French national side, he still looked like he had a long way to go.
He grew into one of the most dominant defensive forces of his generation, he got the rest of his game together, and there isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t seriously consider him a max contract player that they could work with. He’s already amongst rare company as a Euro with one of the NBA’s major end of season awards, joining countryman Joakim Noah and Spain’s Marc Gasol in claiming the defensive player of the year title.
He has developed and is a star but he’s still not been an All Star. That kind of personal achievement is the type of thing a player who has needed to work all the way, with his mother in particular making huge sacrifices to help him along his journey, appreciates because it’s not for him. It’s for those who matter to him, to show them that it was worth believing in him and that he delivered for them.
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The night before Gobert’s time addressing the media, another Euro had the opposite feeling. Nikola Vucevic was celebrated wildly by his Orlando Magic team mates and you could see what it meant to Vooch. The Montenegrin has always been consistent on the floor but he’s having his healthiest and best year in a long time. He got the recognition and it mattered to him.
So, Rudy didn’t make it. He was polite, he was honest, and he was raw. If he wasn’t, would we really get how much a first time All Star meant to Vucevic? If we only allow ourselves to be open when happy, where is the meaning if we hide when sad? Gobert didn’t bad mouth a single player, didn’t say he should have got in over anyone in particular, he just spoke of what he had done to earn his slot and that he was upset. He cried and if a 7’1″ 245lbs giant can’t cry without having his manliness questioned then who can? Gobert could straight up murder near anyone while still having a hand free dribbling a ball.
Instead, we get Draymond Green mocking him online. Draymond, who said he cried the first time he made the All Star game, had issue with it. That got me angry but, in reality, we shouldn’t be. No, instead this is what people with annoying voices like to call a teachable moment.
Basketball has an edge over most sports in that across the globe, across leagues with wildly different cultures, pros are expected to be themselves. They are allowed to be human, to show emotion, and to have thoughts that go beyond the basics on the floor.
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Enough interviews already involve the first answer being about how “Everything starts with the defence” and some follow ups around “We’ve got to listen to what coach says” along with post-game nuggets like “It was a great team win” and “We’ve just got to keep getting better and working harder.” The reaction to Rudy’s tears really send a message to players to just keep giving those fascinating insights that tell us nothing about them or the game.
There’s no point in winning if you can’t understand the pain of defeat, how you’re fighting like mad to replace that feeling with unthinkable euphoria. We all suffer in life, even Draymond knows losing. Manning up is not about bottling up your feelings and letting them fester so that you keep a stoic face while they eat at you. There is no control in that, no manliness.
Gobert gets that, he knows his mother is upset because of how much she believes in him as well as loves him. I’ve never met Rudy’s mammy but I know Mammy Ryan and she would be way more worried if I was just sucking it up every time I got down rather than allowing myself to work through it, to allow those feelings to do whatever they have to do so I can get control back and get on with my life.
Now think about not just the kids watching but any adult with issues watching Gobert be so raw. Here was this gentle but extraordinarily powerful and successful man showing that he’s fine with feeling down. When we mock that, we are not insulting Gobert or anyone else with issues, we are hurting ourselves. We are saying that we will either never feel pain or always be immune to it. That’s not smart.
Gobert’s going to be fine because he knows how to not be fine.
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