The NBA lockout is over, a short training camp and free-agent signing frenzy has begun, a blockbuster trade was made, voided, and made with another team, and games actually begin for real in less than a week. League owners and players really haven't done much for fans to really care about what happens this season, but there is one player that I am eager to see. His name is Jimmer Fredette.
James Taft Fredette (nicknamed “Jimmer” by his mother when he was little) is not your average NBA rookie. He was the leading scorer in all of college basketball last season, averaging 29 points per game at Brigham Young University. He scored 49 in a game against Arizona his Junior year, and had 37 in an NCAA Tournament game. Last season, he scored 30 or more points 16 times, including a 52-point night vs. New Mexico.
But it's not that he scored so many points, it was how he scored them. It seems Fredette can shoot the ball from anywhere. He routinely put up 35-footers during BYU's games, but he would make them. Cougar fans would say that the other team got “jimmered” or that it was “Jimmer time”. Not only did he become a cult hero, but he won national awards, including the Wooden Award last season, as college basketball's player of the year.
Fredette is now a Sacramento King (acquired in a draft day trade from Milwaukee), and even though he hasn't played a game yet, he's taking the town by storm. There's even a little dance he does (called “The Jimmer” of course), and one of the female TV news anchors did a story on it—trying to get Fredette to teach it to her. I'm not sure which was funnier, the woman trying to do the dance, or the male news anchor pretending to be interested.
Even if Fredette was playing for a team other than the Kings, I would be interested in watching him play for two reasons. One, it will be entertaining to see how this clean-cut, unassuming Mormon kid from upstate New York handles the prima-donna, gotta-get-paid hip-hop culture of the NBA, but more importantly, to see if his game elevates to the next level. I know many people dig the NBA for slam dunks. I just want to see him drain 35-footers.
More Jimmer: I reluctantly agreed to play in an NBA fantasy league this year, even though I'm not that interested. I did take Fredette in the fourth round, though. He was ranked 147th of all NBA players by Yahoo!, but I took him 25th (I also have Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin). Maybe I'll end up watching the NBA after all.
Tebow time: Not comparing Fredette to Tim Tebow, but did you see the Saturday Night Live sketch about the Broncos quarterback? In the skit, Jesus (played by Jason Sudeikis) visits the locker room and says the Broncos are going to have to win without him this week because he “has a big birthday coming up.” The Broncos lost to New England yesterday. Tebow is very religious and can often be seen praying on the sidelines. Sudeikis, as Jesus, tells Tebow (played by Taran Killam) to “turn it down a notch”. I'm sure there are plenty who are offended, but I thought it was hilarious. The sketch aired just before 1am, right before the end of the show, and I'm sure that was no accident.
Any given Sunday: Which was the bigger story this week, Green Bay losing or Indianapolis winning? I didn't see the game, but how did the Packers lose to those lowly Chiefs anyway?
Bowl season: College football's post-season kicked off Saturday with three bowl games—two of which were pretty good. Ohio came back to beat Utah State 24-23 in the “Famous Idaho Potato” Bowl (you just can't make these names up), and Louisiana-Lafayette nailed a 50-yard field goal as time expired to beat San Diego State 32-30 in the New Orleans Bowl. The other game was a blowout, but featured the best extra-point of all time. Wyoming kicker Daniel Sullivan doinked one off both uprights of the goal post, but the ball went through. I don't know if that's ever been done. The Cowboys lost to Temple 37-15 in the New Mexico Bowl.
Sign of the times?: Beginning today, the Vacaville Reporter—a Bay Area daily newspaper—will no longer publish a print edition on Mondays. It's an interesting move designed for cost cutting, but it sure is understandable. Mondays are notoriously slow news days because staff is gone on weekends and so are government officials and other newsmakers. When I was a radio news reporter both in Sacramento and Salt Lake City, each reporter was responsible for doing a “Monday story”—a feature or preview, or other evergreen (non time-specific) report. Now the paper has eliminated them altogether.