Gobert makes history by winning his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. GETTY IMAGES

The Minnesota centre ties the historic record of Mutombo and Wallace. Both are members of the Hall of Fame. His compatriot and fellow foreigner Victor Wembanyama, who was voted the league's best rookie, came close. At the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris, France will have a wall.

Minnesota centre Rudy Gobert was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth time on Tuesday. He equalled the record shared by Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace. He is already a member of this exclusive club. The French Wall, as he is known, embodies the essence of the French school. 

That's why a French player has won the award five times in the last 11 NBA seasons. His compatriot, rookie Wembanyama, even came close.

Gobert, the French wall, stands 2.15 metres tall and has a wingspan of 2.36 metres. This is the fourth time he has been voted Defensive Player of the Regular Season. The Minnesota Timberwolves centre won the award in the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons. He played for the Utah Jazz. 

At Paris 2024, Gobert will bring huge defensive potential to France. GETTY IMAGES
At Paris 2024, Gobert will bring huge defensive potential to France. GETTY IMAGES

The French centre is the first player in Timberwolves history to win the award. "This year, in training camp, we came in on the first day and said we're going to be one of the best defensive teams in the league," Gobert said in an interview with TNT after winning the award. 

The Timberwolves face the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals after having the best defence in the regular season. It has been the essence of their success. Players such as Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns have led the team. Gobert's contribution under the hoop has been invaluable.

Minnesota finished third in the Western Conference with a record of 56-26. But Gobert's work has undoubtedly stood out. He averaged 9.2 defensive rebounds per game, third in the league, and 2.13 blocks per game, sixth in that category.

Gobert also ranks next to Sabonis in total rebounds (12.9 per game) and offensive rebounds (3.8 per game). Despite not being known for his offensive contribution, he has averaged 14.0 points per game. Perhaps the most important aspect was the vote he received: 72 of the 99 members of the jury voted for him. Another 24 members voted for him as their second choice. So it was clear that he would be the one chosen.

With Gobert's confirmation, it's clear that France will have a veritable wall at the forthcoming Paris 2024 Olympics, as the winner of the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award will be joined by the runner-up, who will also be at Paris 2024: Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs. 

The Alien is living up to the predictions that made him the Breakout Player of the Year. And he is. Not only was he voted the second best defensive player, but he's also the best rookie of the season after being unanimously voted the NBA's Rookie of the Year by 99 members of the jury on Monday. 

The big prize, the MVP of the season, is still to be announced after the Defensive Player of the Year award. The favourite is Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets. It would be his third award, having won in 2021 and 2022.