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Rudy Gobert says playing in front of fans ‘almost feels like a zoo’

Jazz, Rudy Gobert

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert expressed disgust when the idea of insulting fans was brought up in light of the recent incident with Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. The Jazz center noted it’s an unpleasant sense of entitlement that fans feels they’re able to do what they please just because NBA players are handsomely compensated.

“Sometimes it almost feels like a zoo,” said Gobert, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “People pay money to watch us and feel like they can touch us or do whatever they want. Because we make millions, we’re just expected to shut up and take it. But they can’t do whatever they want.”

Forward Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics concurred with that sentiment, despite only having experienced the environment for nearly two full NBA seasons.

“People always expect us to turn the shoulder and we get paid all this money, we should be able to let them talk to us any kind of way, and that’s just not true,” said Tatum. “For the most part, we do a good job of letting go and running out the other way, but what that person said was tough. It was out of line and very disrespectful to who he was as a person. We’ve all been out there. You’ve got to stand up for yourself.”

Westbrook was fined a whopping $25,000 for responding to the fan — a normal fan when it comes to that type of violation of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, but a response that was in defense of his very dignity, given the verbal attack from the fan.

Because of that principle, Jazz fans started an online campaign to pay the full amount of Westbrook’s fine — a sentiment in thought of fairness, given the circumstance he was put into by the offending fan. Westbrook recently signed a five-year, $205 million extension in 2017, but that isn’t any excuse for a fan to blatantly offend him racially or in any other way in which he’s been attacked over the years.