Los Angeles: Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was in tears on Friday after being snubbed for even a reserve spot in this year's NBA All-Star Game despite a standout campaign.
The 26-year-old French 7-footer (2.16m) is this year's most accurate NBA shooter, connecting on 65% of shots from the floor, and has had a strong follow up to last season's Defensive Player of the Year honours.
But he waited in vain on Thursday night to hear his name when the list of reserve players for the 17 February NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte was announced.
"My mom called me crying," Gobert said in a posting on the club website. "It was tough."
Gobert turned off his television and admitted on Friday that he felt disrespected and frustrated by the All-Star snub.
"I was surprised," he said. "We all know how the league works, the direction the league is heading to. I thought there was a chance I might not make it, but just surprised."
With NBA coaches making the call on backup players, Gobert felt especially insulted at his defensive efforts being unrewarded, even knowing the All-Star matchup is typically a score-fest with half-hearted defensive work.
"I think it's disrespectful. I feel disrespected," Gobert said. "It's disrespectful not only toward me but toward the team, the organization and toward the game.
"Because all the coaches preach about defence. Every day they talk about defence, they talk about how important it is to get stops in order to win basketball games.
"And when it's time to vote, they don't reward the best defensive player in the world."
Gobert said he resisted the urge to take his displeasure to Twitter but Utah Jazz president Steve Starks did not, tweeting: "Rudy deserved to be named an All-Star. Complete non-sense and we need more integrity and accountability. If the coaches vote then their ballots should be made public"(sic).
Jazz GM 'disgusted'
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said he was "disgusted" and "flabbergasted" by the snub that upset Gobert so deeply.
And Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, averaging 22.5 points a game, tweeted to Gobert that "Together we will prevail big fella" with a hashtag of "robbed."
"The first year, it was OK. I was 24. It was my first year playing well. I thought maybe I have to make a name for myself, earn the respect," Gobert said.
"But I've won the Defensive Player of the Year. I should have two, by the way. All-NBA Second Team. And they still don't give me that respect.
"I'm always going to be about winning. I don't want to be focused on those things. But at one point I'd still like to get that recognition."
Gobert says he would take an all-star nod as an injury replacement selection but added, "It's not the same as being selected."
It also wouldn't pay him the $1 million bonus Gobert would have had from being selected, but that means less, Gobert said, than how his career will be regarded once it's done.
"It's my legacy," Gobert said. "I don't even play for money. I don't care about that All-Star bonus, to be honest. It's just about my legacy. Everything I do, I do it to win. It would be good if you could get some reward for that."