Friday, September 23, 2011
Jimmer Fredette, rookies put on a show
By Spencer Ryan Hall
PROVO, Utah -- Summer basketball barnstorming won’t count in any standings and won’t bring the NBA lockout any closer to a conclusion, but it certainly showed how much fun can be had when good players have a great time in front of an enthusiastic crowd. It also revealed that being named Jimmer doesn’t guarantee a win in an event called Jimmer’s All-Stars.
The Jimmer Fredette show returned to the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, for an exhibition on Thursday night. Even though Fredette was the main attraction, the crowd was clearly excited to see what the rest of the players could do. Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas quickly became crowd favorites while putting on an impressive performance for more than 11,000 noisy fans.
BYU’s Dave Rose and San Diego State’s Steve Fisher coached the teams. First-round picks on display included San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, Charlotte's Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, Portland's Nolan Smith, Faried, Milwaukee's Tobias Harris and Washington's Chris Singleton.
The five second-round selections included Sacramento's Tyler Honeycutt, Golden State's Charles Jenkins, Minnesota's Malcolm Lee, Detroit's Vernon Macklin and Thomas, along with undrafted free agent Chris Wright from Dayton. Fredette’s BYU teammate Jackson Emery, who recently retired from basketball, also participated.
The final score is fairly irrelevant on a night like this, but Team Jimmer lost to Team Kawhi 140-126. Fredette finished with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists, but never got unleashed in classic Jimmer fashion.
Even with Jimmer struggling, the crowd was loud and enjoyed strong performances from Smith (30 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists), Leonard, Harris, Walker and especially Faried and Thomas. Faried continued where he left off in the NCAA tournament, playing with reckless abandon and showing his signature tenacity as he repeatedly bulled his way to the rim and wreaked havoc on the defensive end.
The energy of the crowd seemed to surprise a few of the players who weren’t expecting fan-favorite status. Thomas smiled after the game when asked about the star treatment from the fans. “I’ve never been out here before, but I’m going to have to make more trips.” Later he tweeted:
“The BYU fans are GREAT!!!!! They showed me sooooooo much LOVE it was unbelievable, I felt like Jimmer out there today LOL!! Thank you PROVO!”
I want to give a special thanks 2 @jimmerfredette 4 inviting me 2 participate in this event here at BYU it was Fun and I had a GREAT time.
After the game, Walker talked about the crowd: “I always knew Jimmer’s fans were crazy,” he said, “but this was special.”
Added Fisher: “A crowd like that, on a Thursday night, doesn't happen. And it doesn't happen without Jimmer and Dave Rose."
Both teams seemed to strike a perfect balance between playing hard and having a good time. There were enough dunks and smiles to keep the fans excited, but the game never devolved into the kind of sloppy play that usually defines an all-star exhibition. It was a bittersweet reminder of what fans will be missing if the NBA season is further interrupted by labor negotiations.
Despite the success of the event, there are no plans to schedule more games due to the uncertainty of the lockout.
After the game, Rose mentioned that Smith, who played at Duke, looked at the crowd during a timeout and said, “Man, I’d love to have one last game in Cameron.”