The Utah Jazz placed center Rudy Gobert in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Thursday.
Gobert joins teammate Joe Ingles in protocols. Prior to Ingles' placement in protocols earlier this week, the Jazz were the only team in the NBA to not place a player in protocols this season.
Gobert was at the center of the NBA's initial COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. Days prior to the pandemic taking its grip on the globe, Gobert made light of COVID-19 in a news conference, rubbing his hands over reporters's voice recorders and microphones before his exit from the room.
— Lionel Bienvenu (@lionelbienvenu) March 12, 2020
Days later, the NBA suspended its season when Gobert tested positive prior to a March 11 game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. The suspension of the season was the first in major American sports and a landmark in the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCAA tournaments were canceled shortly after as sports and most of the rest of the globe shut down at the onset of the pandemic.
“It came from a good intention,” Gobert told ESPN's Lisa Salters in December 2020. “It was the first day that we found out that the media was not going to be able to interview us, right next to us, and, you know, we obviously didn't know as much as we know now, and I only did that to try to liven the mood a little bit.
“It was, of course, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't do it.”
The Jazz are 28-10, good for third place in the Western Conference. Gobert — the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year — is in the midst of arguably his best season, averaging 15.5 points, a league-best 15.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 70.6% from the field, a rate that also leads the league. It's not clear how much time he'll miss.