Away from the headlines of the American press after his massive move from Salt Lake City to Minneapolis, Rudy Gobert continues his blue, white, and red summer in utter serenity.
The French pivot is bobbing with full teeth in this Euro preparation, with the offensive role tweaked still up and the strong ambition to finally win the gold medal.
“It’s a different dynamic but an interesting one”
Did you feel a real shift in the team’s focus as you head into an important game tonight against the Czech Republic?
“I think the opposition has been optimistic from the start. Then, as in any preparatory stage, there are ups and downs. We take every day and every training as an important step for the team. These confrontations will still bring us, especially in the use of players by the coach who will change.”
Is it difficult to move from the warm-up matches to the match at risk?
“It’s a match we have to win. But anyway, we always have the mentality of wanting to win every game we play. For us, it’s about keeping working and getting faster. Every match and every training session is an opportunity to progress. This match will be fun for us because it’s A good confrontation and it will require us to raise our level of concentration even more.”
Now that you’re one of the team leaders, how do you handle this role, which is a bit new to you, in a somewhat renewed workforce compared to last year, at the Olympics?
“I just want to be the best player I can be, to stay true to myself and lead by example. You have to lead with actions and a state of mind. (…) There are quite a few young players who have inherited responsibilities that weren’t there in the past. Always like this. [que ça marche], for each cycle. We know Nando and Nico will be back but it’s also good to let these young players get that experience and shower a little bit longer. It’s a different dynamic for us but an interesting one as well. It’s a tougher challenge for Evan and I, strange to say, but among the oldest of the bunch. »
After the Parker-Diaw generation, and some form of transition in recent years, it looks like we’ve definitely moved into a new era, the era of your generation with Evan Fournier, 92s. Can you confirm that?
“This is the challenge for us, and not just for the 92nd generation, for the French team in general. We have a group that is being built and getting stronger every year. We have a group that is developing very well. We are of course preparing for the upcoming competitions, and in each of them we want to strive to win the gold medal. I Personally, both in youth and in category A, I have not yet received a gold medal. I got a silver and a bronze. There we clearly want gold! »
You are the captain with Evan Fournier, what does that mean to you?
We often talk about it with Evan. It’s a great honor to be captain and assistant captain, but in the end, we continue to do what we’ve always done, which is play to win and set the best possible example for everyone. The team, for the whole group. We are among the oldest in the team and this is the first time this has happened, but for us we are competitors. Whether you are 20 or 30 years old, that will never change. »
“I, I still have my hair!”
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Evan …
“I’ve known him since we were thirteen and fourteen. Obviously sometimes he makes you smile to look back on the road we came. But we still have the most beautiful pages of our history to write. When we’re done and retired, we can look back to see where we came from. And how much we’ve accomplished, but right now, we’re in the midst of it. We don’t have much time to procrastinate.”
Who has changed the most between you?
“Me, I still have my hair [rires] ! No, but we both changed, let’s say! When you see the previous pictures… but that’s life, that’s a good thing. We know we’re changing, but we don’t change either. We kept the same state of mind inside. »
We also feel that you are more offensively involved in the French team than in the NBA, like your 3-point attempt against Belgium. How do you feel about this increased role in the offensive?
“I feel more and more comfortable. I am fortunate to have a coaching staff who trusts me and tries to push me to be more dominant. I have been doing all the hard work for years to be dominant. [des deux côtés du terrain]. It’s great for me to have the opportunity to try things, make mistakes, improve and feel like the team really needs me to be aggressive to win. I think if I’m aggressive, it opens things up for my teammates, and the team takes on a bigger dimension. »
We imagine that you should also reveal another side of your game, especially when you are often ridiculed for your offensive game in the NBA…
“In the NBA, I still get 16 points on average [cette saison, ainsi qu’en 2018-19] But it’s true that compared to my capabilities and the work I do, even if points aren’t everything, I feel I can still increase strength. That’s nice because I’m now in Season 10 of the NBA and I think my best years are yet to come. It’s a work in progress and that’s what motivates me every day because we can always move forward. »
By the way, you seem to have gained some muscle this summer…
” You find [rires] ! I do not know. Honestly, I’m just doing my job. I’m just trying to keep doing what I’m doing to progress and grow physically. It’s not necessarily a matter of gaining mass for me, but rather of gaining balance, strength, explosiveness, and resistance. I just want to be as strong as possible, develop my upper body and perfect my skills on the court. »
interview in Paris