Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Lakers Get Jimmered

I was so excited to watch Jimmer's official NBA debut last night. It was somewhat of a sacrifice, since I absolutely loathe the Lakers and do not enjoy watching them play. Every time I hear the name "Kobe" or "Shaq" (even though he's not on the team anymore), I cringe. I also think it should be a felony to put "World Peace" on the back of any article of clothing with "Lakers" on the front. It's just gross. But I was willing to overcome those reservations to watch my hero.

When I heard the announcer shout his name over the loudspeaker (JIMMMMMMMERRRRRRRRRRRRRR FREDETTE!), I knew that it was the start of something special. Unfortunately, about 10 seconds after first touching the ball, Jimmer hesitated on the drive and got called for a double dribble. At the very beginning of his time in the game, he almost looked like a scared little kid-- something I've never seen from him before. His eyes were darting around the court, almost like he was overwhelmed and didn't know what to do next. Granted, I'm sure it was extremely intimidating to be playing his first official game with a bunch of seasoned, world-famous pros who are twice his size. More than once, he was also the only little white kid in a black jersey on the court, so I can't blame him. But he snapped out of it pretty quickly. Jimmer sunk his first 3 shots-- made it look easy. Didn't matter that he was being guarded by Kobe Bryant or Derek Fisher.

I kept waiting for him to drain a Jimmer-range three over Kobe's head... However, he didn't score the rest of the game. But he still played really well. He made some incredible passes (unfortunately, not all of them turned into assists, even though they probably should have) and showed a great attitude and sportsmanship (qualities that are even more rare in the NBA than in college hoops). He clapped and cheered when the refs made the right call, he was calling plays as they set the stage on drives, and he was giving encouragement to his teammates all around from the bench. I also saw his typical "Are you kidding me?!?" look a couple of times after a questionable call from the refs. It's so refreshing to see him stay true to how he was at BYU. I hope he never changes.

I don't know a whole lot about the Kings' coach, Paul Westphal, but he seems like a good fit for Jimmer. At first I was a little bit worried that Jimmer was only recruited there for his marketability and popularity, especially since the Kings have been struggling lately with morale. But Westphal seems to really believe that Jimmer has potential and can be a great contributor to the team. I'm glad he's giving him decent minutes and is allowing him to show what he can do. One of the commentators said last night that someone asked Westphal if Jimmer had the "green light" all the time. His response: "Why wouldn't he?!" Love it.

It's very different watching Jimmer in the NBA. He's no longer the only go-to guy. He's no longer the only one who can hit long-range threes or drive in with a crazy shot in the lane. At BYU, if Jimmer was open beyond the arc and calling for the ball, he got it every single time. Last night, he was open several times from long range and wanted it badly, but he never got the ball. Someone else drove it in and scored instead. He also only played about half the game-- not 95% of it, like he did the majority of games during his senior year at BYU. But I think it's good for him. He's definitely got some things he needs to get used to, but he's got time. I didn't expect him to be perfect his first game. In fact, he shouldn't be (yes, I admit that he is human). He may have only scored 6 points, but he made a great contribution to the Kings winning that game. I think it's safe to say that the Lakers got Jimmered. Now I can't wait until January 28, when I get to see--in person-- the Jazz get Jimmered in similar fashion :)

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