One of the best centers in the NBA and Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert has been in the headlines a lot recently. Unfortunately, it has been less for his performances and more for being the target of Shaquille O’Neal and his constant criticism, mostly because of the $205 million contract he signed recently.
Gobert talked about his name getting mentioned in a negative context more frequently in an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic and shared how he thinks his strong play has led to that, even comparing his situation to LeBron’s:
“And obviously the better you get, the more people talk and the more people are either going to praise you or adopt you or criticize you, so I kind of started to embrace it and take every kind of criticism as, in a way, a compliment. I mean, look at LeBron. He was actually the most criticized player of our generation, and he’s the one who has accomplished the most, so I would say when you start playing well, you’re going to have a lot of people criticize you and people praising you. But you can’t let that affect you.”Rudy Gobbert, via The Athletic
You can see the point Gobert is making, but it quite different. LeBron was the biggest villain in the NBA because of his signing with the Miami Heat and because of not winning it all early in his career. At the same time, Gobert is being hated for getting a massive contract without being considered a top tier player in the NBA. What is even more important is the enormous difference in stardom and the level of pressure between LeBron and Gobert, as LeBron is considered one of the best players of all-time, while Gobert is just a very good player. LeBron managed to shut up his haters by winning multiple championships, so maybe Gobert has to do the same thing.
Still, you have to praise Gobert, as he doesn’t seem to be too concerned with all the talk. He is leading the Jazz defense, averaging 13.3 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game this season, being a vital part of the Jazz having a 16-5 record, the best in the whole NBA.