Rudy Gobert, the 7-foot-1 center of the Utah Jazz, made history when he became the first player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) to test positive for Covid-19. That was in March, triggering the stoppage of the league on March 11.
Gobert was in the news again yesterday, July 30, sharing the spotlight with the NBA in the restart of the world’s No. 1 basketball loop.
Not only was he fully recovered from the virus, playing in top form for the Jazz, who erased a 16-point deficit to steal a 106-104 victory over the hard-luck New Orleans Pelicans.
And who would star for Utah but Gobert himself, who knocked in two free throws with 6.9 seconds remaining for the Jazz’s winning points.
LeBron James also starred in the Lakers’ 103-101 victory over the Clippers yesterday, following up his own miss for the marginal shot with 12.8 seconds left.
Utah’s victory was also triggered in large part by Donovan Mitchell, who gave his team back the lead at 98-97 to spark the Jazz escape.
Mitchell had a minor spat with Gobert before the NBA lockdown when he felt he got the virus out of the French’s “recklessness.”
Mitchell’s two charities gave Utah a 104-102 edge and, after Pelican Brandon Ingram tied it at 104, Donovan dished off the brilliantly-executed, game-winning assist to Gobert.
Mitchell was dribbling in the middle lane when he aborted his layup by suddenly flicking the ball to a streaking Gobert from the left.
But while he caught the pass perfectly, Gobert’s two-handed dunk was a dud. Luckily, he got fouled, leading to Gobert’s game-clinching free throws.
As the NBA restart’s Game One went on almost glitch-free—no hugging but physical distancing deferred (of course!)—the day’s second match between the Lakers and the Clippers was flagged off just as fast.
Get down to business quick.
Referees not too whistle-happy anymore.
Go home immediately after the game.
Speeding up matters has become the NBA’s new normal.
For the NBA, it’s Oplan OTV all the way (Outrace The Virus).
Are the Philippine Basketball Association top guns taking down notes?