Like most Central Valley residents, I grew up a Sacramento Kings fan.
Like some Valley residents, I gradually became a non-Sacramento Kings fan, especially in the past few losing years. It was heartbreaking to hear about the NBA franchise’s possible team relocation to Anaheim earlier this year.
But then came two big gifts.
The first gift was that the Kings had another go as a franchise in the upcoming season, thanks to the Maloof family and the NBA.
The second gift came Thursday night, wrapped in an invisible giant cloak of expectation. His name is Jimmer Fredette.
He’s the answer to a dying franchise like the Sacramento Kings. He’s not a savior, but he could save attendance. He’ll bring in droves of fans in this upcoming season if there isn’t a lockout. Fans celebrated as if their Kings instantly got saved after Fredette was named the No. 10 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, wearing a Milwaukee Bucks hat for just a short time before he was dealt to Sacramento in a three-team trade.
I’m not here to discuss his talents. He is talented, and his shooting range is apparently the moon. He single-handedly carried the Brigham Young Cougars into the Sweet 16 in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
I’m here to talk about what it means to have a player like Fredette, who brings in so much flash and hype.
In high school, I was a huge Kings fan. I watched every game on TV and stored basketball cards of my favorite Kings into clear plastic sheets, from Peja Stojakovic to Vlade Divac and Chris Webber. But the one player I remember most from that era about a decade ago was Jason Williams, who passed the ball as if he was a Harlem Globetrotter. He was unpolished, but that was why I enjoyed his play so much.
A family friend took me to a couple games during this exciting time. I just wanted to see Williams live. That night, he dazzled. Shortly after, I spent my time throwing passes with my eyes closed and off my elbows, moves that were frowned upon in organized basketball. At the time, Williams was getting away with it.
The same could be said about Fredette, who was a national media sweetheart during the NCAA Tournament due, in part, to his unique first name and his scoring ability, with the latter attribute helping him win the National Player of the Year award.
Though his techniques on the court were a liability at times, he was a treat to watch. He never bored you. He made you think, “No way he’s going to take that shot. Oh, wait. He just did!” However, at least half of his near-halfcourt shots and other mind-blowing moves will not be allowed in the pros. He’ll be restricted, but his past is enough to bring past Kings fans like myself back into focus.
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