After most of his teammates had gone, Rudy Gobert was alone in the Timberwolves locker room following Wednesday's win over the Pacers.

Gobert wanted to finish watching the last few moments of another NBA game, Utah against Golden State.

After the Jazz won a last-second thriller against the Warriors, a smile came across Gobert's face.

"Good win," he said.

On Friday, Gobert will return to Utah for his first game since the Jazz traded him to Minnesota. Utah was Gobert's only franchise. Nine seasons of playoff appearances, of Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Nine years of calling a place home. There's still a lot of love between Gobert and the Jazz.

"In this league when a player gets traded, usually people try to only focus on the basketball. But the way I am, things are bigger than just basketball," Gobert said. "The community, there's relationships. There's a lot of people that always had my back."

Gobert said he has never been in the visitors' locker room of the arena, and Friday is going to feel at least a little "weird." The Wolves already faced the Jazz in Minnesota, and that was different for Gobert, but Friday he'll face a crowd that cheered him on for nearly a decade.

"I just want to enjoy the moment," Gobert said. "There's a lot of people that I have a lot of love for over there. There's a lot of great memories. … I just want to enjoy the moment and, of course, get a win."

Gobert helped the Wolves do that Wednesday against Indiana when he hit the go-ahead free throws and came up with a game-saving block on Buddy Hield to seal the win. Those plays were a part of Gobert's 16-point, 21-rebound night.

It was one of Gobert's best games in Minnesota, a game in which he might have been able to win over some of his teammates' trust. Also on his side were the fans, who serenaded him with chants of "Rudy, Rudy," in the final moments.

"It was great," Gobert said of the reception. "But we got to build on that. It's one game. What people don't know about me, I don't stop. … You keep building, you keep getting better. That's part of the process."

Gobert's success in Utah didn't happen overnight. In Minnesota, he has preached patience amid a 12-12 record and an anxious fanbase that wants to see more immediate results from the heavy investment the franchise made to bring him here.

“There's a lot of people that I have a lot of love for over there. There's a lot of great memories. . . . I just want to enjoy the moment and, of course, get a win.”
Rudy Gobert

It's not always easy for everyone to keep that perspective, but that has been a constant of Gobert's public remarks since training camp.

"It's 82 games, it's a marathon," Gobert said. "It's about building and also winning every night if we can. But understanding that there is adversity. I like the energy of our team right now handling that adversity."

The season may be a marathon, and so is the process of acclimating to a new home. All is going well on that front for Gobert.

"I'm really happy here," Gobert said. "Like I said, it takes time. You build relationships, you create memories and obviously trying to win a championship here would be amazing. That's the goal, that's why I'm here."

It's a goal Gobert never reached in Utah, but that doesn't mean his time there was a failure. Far from it, especially when he considers all he had to leave behind.

"I feel the love. It's beyond basketball," Gobert said of Jazz fans. "... For me, it means a lot to just see that regardless of what happens on the business side. On the human side, people are always going to have my back."