Rudy Gobert Has A Story To Tell About His Racial Experiences Playing For Utah Jazz | Amplifies Donovan Mitchell’s Take On The State

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Utah has never been known as a haven for Black people, and former Jazz star Rudy Gobert recently confirmed his racial inadequacies when he lived there, although in the most politically correct way possible. The now Minnesota Timberwolves star discussed it with The New York Times.

“My family and I never had any bad experiences. I’ve always had a lot of love over there,” Gobert said to Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. “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.

The Gobert Perspective

Gobert followed the more inflammatory comments of his former teammate, Donovan Mitchell, who revealed many of the issues he dealt with off the court in Salt Lake City.

“As far as Utah, it became a lot to have to deal with on a nightly basis,” Mitchell said to Marc J. Spears of Andscape. “I got pulled over once. I got an attitude from a cop until I gave him my ID. And that forever made me wonder what happens to the young Black kid in Utah that doesn’t have that power to just be like, ‘This is who I am.’ And that was one of the things for me that I took to heart.”

Mitchell continued to describe his experience in Utah as a reality check of intolerance and subtle opposition. Now that he plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he enjoys being closer to communities that reflect him.

“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,” Mitchell continued. “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. A [Utah] state senator [Stuart Adams] saying I need to get educated on my own Black history.

“Seeing Black kids getting bullied because of their skin color. Seeing a little girl [Isabella Tichenor] hang herself because she’s being bullied. Man, it was just one thing after another. And I will say, it’s not the only place it happens. But for me, I’m continuing to be an advocate for [racial equality] and to receive the amount of pushback I got over the years, it was a lot. And being in Cleveland now, you see us courtside. It’s just refreshing. It’s a blessing to be back around people that look like me.”

Gobert rationalized the way society treats people that are different from themselves. Although the two didn’t work out in Utah, they have a similar perspective on injustice, and both left the Utah market for more diverse environments. However, both Ohio and Minnesota have had their share of racial issues.

“It’s part of every society in the world that people that can be marginalized for being different color of skin, different religion,” Gobert continued. “There’s always going to be kids at school that’s going to bully people for being different.”

In the post-shut-up-and-dribble era, athletes are explaining their experiences in different markets and the challenges they face.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.