A first for BYUfootblog – we have a post about basketball. I have had a bit of an internal battle regarding the writing of this, as the site is (of course) dedicated to BYU football. But the subject of this post is bigger than “some basketball post.” He’s bigger than basketball. He’s bigger than football. He is Jimmer Fredette.
Some of my twitter followers were surprised last week when I began to ask questions regarding basketball tournaments. You see, I have never really followed college basketball – no, not even BYU. And I haven’t sat down to watch an NBA game since the 1998 Finals.
So why am I now planning my life around upcoming BYU basketball games? This is a level of relevance that I have traditionally reserved only for BYU football.
In a word: Jimmer.
When I was growing up in Iowa, my older brother (incidentally – his name is Jason Kidd) was a huge Chicago Bulls fan. Sure – everyone was a Bulls fan in the 90’s. I was captivated by this team, and of course, by Michael Jordan. Jordan was the Superstar of superstars. If he was on the team, you were going to win the championship. Not sure about that? How about a three-peat, [insert silly baseball years here] followed by another three-peat. By the 1997 and 1998 finals, the rest of my family were cheering for the Jazz rather than Jordan, but we were watching.
After that last season, and retirement (#2?) I lost interest in basketball. I began to be annoyed by how long it took to play the final minutes of a game (time outs, fouls, etc.). I started watching hockey, and soon, basketball was just “in the way” because the seasons overlap, and basketball usually usurps hockey television time.
So my sports year has typically been Football from Fall to mid-Winter, and Hockey from October to June.
Last March I heard that the BYU basketball team was going to the NCAA tournament, and there was talk about this star on the team, named what? Jimmer. So we tuned in, and saw this Jimmer light up a good Florida team for 37 points. BYU of course did lose the next round to 2-seed Kansas State. But the hook was set, and when I finally switched to DirecTV and got theMtn, I thought we might give Jimmer’s regular season a try. I watched every televised game, and found myself tuning in to Greg Wrubell on my KSL phone app for the games that weren’t televised.
So we have now watched a whole season of Jimmer. We saw the buzzer-beater against St. Mary’s, the second domination of Arizona, the Utah half-court shot, beating UNLV at the T&M to the cheers of “F-U-B-Y-U”, and beating a tough SDSU team twice. And here, we are fans of Jimmer.
For me, what sums up Jimmer is the Utah half-court shot. It was an amazing, unbelievable play. But you expected it to go in.
For most players, you think, “it would be so cool if it goes in.”
And then he turns around and walks away – just like you’re told to do when getting bullied on the playground. Just as if he had missed it. But he didn’t.
Somehow, Jimmer brought me back to basketball. After a 13 year absence, I am excited about watching hoops. Jimmer is larger than life. His teams will win games. He can beat you by driving to the hoop, draining 3’s from a mile a way, or faking you out of your shoes for a pull-up jumper. He will make plays that will make you use the “back” button on your DVR over and over. A player that even on a off night will score more points than every other player on the court. A player that can have a quiet 33 point game. All that, and he’s not full of himself. He is now for me what Michael Jordan was to me as a child – a player worth watching.
Last night, Jimmer re-set the BYU single game points record, with 52 against New Mexico. He also took down Danny Ainge’s all-time points record at BYU. Jimmer’s comment: Danny Ainge is the best player to ever wear a BYU jersey.
Well, Jimmer, you can believe what you want. I won’t take away your humility. But for me and my house, You are the best player to ever wear a BYU jersey.
I will be watching BYU basketball games next year – I’m excited to see the new teams in the WCC.
But I’m even more excited to see where Jimmer lands in the NBA. I will be watching Him there, and His will be my new favorite team. Jimmer has been great for BYU basketball, and from what little I’ve seen of the NBA recently, I think He’ll be good for them, too.
Update: Jimmer went tenth in the NBA draft yesterday, selected by the Bucks for the Sacramento Kings. This Jimmer fan is now a Kings fan.