OT: 'Jimmer-Mania' runs wild over Magic
April, 15, 2014
By Nick Friedell
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsJimmer Fredette saw more minutes Monday (31) than he'd played previously with Chicago (25).
CHICAGO -- The first day Jimmer Fredette set foot inside the Chicago Bulls locker room, veteran equipment manager John Ligmanowski had to chuckle as he saw the media horde assembled around the sharpshooter's locker.
"I didn't know MJ came back," Ligmanowski said.
MJ, of course, would be the Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.
While the media attention has subsided since Fredette signed in early March, the interest level in his career hasn't. Fans are intrigued by the possibility of Fredette starring one day for the Bulls, and they got a glimpse of the possibilities Monday night as Fredette stepped in off the bench for D.J. Augustin, who was with his wife as she gave birth to a baby boy.
It was Fredette's first real chance to show what he could do with Chicago, and it was an opportunity his teammates knew he would take advantage of.
"Jimmer's a good dude and he's a worker," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "I've never seen a dude work so hard on his game every day, and it just shows. Hard work pays off. He came through, hasn't played for a long time. He comes in and delivers when we need him. That says a lot about his professionalism."
Bulls forward Taj Gibson admitted that he has spoken to Fredette a few times about being patient for his chance. That's why he took pride in the fact his new teammate dropped 17 points in the 108-95 victory over the Orlando Magic.
"It just says that he's humble," Gibson said. "And he's been working on his game no matter what and he's ready to step in. I knew from Day 1 that, when he gets his time to play, he's going to play [well]. From the first day he came, he was eager to learn. He was always in the gym, always practicing, always in the early group. I told him, 'Just be patient.' His time is going to come."
Fredette, meanwhile, was just trying to take his moment in stride. He politely answered questions in front of his locker -- saying all the right things in a room full of players who take pride in doing all the right things.
"You always want to play as a competitor," Fredette said. "But at the same time you've got to be a great teammate and make sure all your teammates know you're supporting them, and I continue to do that. Whatever my role is on this team, I have to embrace [it] and do the best job you can at."
What's next: The Bulls fly to Charlotte in advance of Wednesday night's regular-season finale against the Bobcats.
The last word: Gibson, on whether the Bulls take any solace in having beaten the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013 postseason in advance of a possible rematch in this year's playoffs. If the current standings hold, the Bulls would host the Nets in Game 1 this weekend.
"Last year is behind us, really. You can't go and dwell on the past. You just got to stay focused on the task at hand. They've got a lot of veterans, they've got some young talent -- [Mason] Plumlee's playing well. They switched the way their starting lineup is, so at the end of the day it's going to come down to who wants it more. We're just focused on ourselves right now and we know what it's going to take."