JIMMER SELECTED AS ALL-STAR! NEW PICTURES FROM SHANGHAI

I have to admit, this past holiday weekend I certainly did receive some pretty exciting Christmas gifts. On Christmas Eve, my New York Giants clinched their first playoff birth in four years, on Christmas Day, my little brother blessed us with a 43 point performance, leading his Shanghai Sharks to another important victory in his Christmas debut, and then just today, the news broke that Jimmer was selected to represent the sharks in the CBA All-Star game this coming month! Add those 3 amazing gifts in with the wonderful presents my gracious family left under the Christmas tree for me, and I have to say this was a banner Christmas season!

On Christmas Eve when I was getting ready for bed, Jimmer was just returning to his hotel room from his afternoon shoot around (keep in mind the Shanghai region in China is a 13 hour time difference from NY). So before I went to bed, I text Jimmer to wish him a Merry Christmas, as well as good luck in his game that night. Jimmer text me back within a matter of minutes to wish me a Merry Christmas in return, and he also told me that he had just experienced something that he had never before experienced in all his days of professional basketball. He told me that he had just participated in his first ever shoot around where he was forced to practice his pull up jump shots in a thick winter jacket. For some reason the heat in this very unique stadium was not on, and as a result, the gym was set at a very festive 32 degrees. In other words, the temperature in the arena was set at a level where if clouds could form indoors,  Jimmer and his teammates could have essentially been battling snowflakes with every shot they put up. Luckily, later that evening when the game began, Jimmer and the Sharks would heat things up with their white hot shooting, and the cold would be a non-factor.

The Sharks are now a league best 19-2! It’s looking like nothing can stop their continued hot streak… not even a 32 degree gym.

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MEETING CRAIG SAGER

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This past week, the late great legendary NBA sideline reporter, Craig Sager, sadly passed away after a long hard fought battle with cancer. This was a very special man, who literally and figuratively lit up NBA sidelines for years with his magnetic personality and outlandish, bright, neon-colored suits, which would eventually become synonymous with his name. His job was not an easy one, but as far as I’m concerned, there was no one better.  When coaches and players would approach him, angrily at times, to give their mandatory halftime interviews, Craig had the uncanny ability of being able to bring levity to those tense-filled situations.  I’m honored to say that in 2011, I had the incredible opportunity to meet Craig Sager at The Westin Hotel in Manhattan, the night of the NBA Draft.  Now. . . just simply the occurrence of meeting Craig Sager is certainly an impressive story in itself.  However, the unique way in which my family and I were able to meet him, makes the story all the more interesting, as the experience ended up hitting very close to home.

The night of the 2011 NBA Draft, my family and I were hanging out in the lobby of the Westin Hotel in midtown Manhattan, hobnobbing with the Who’s Who of the National Basketball Association. As we hung around the fancy lobby, enjoying the surreal experience of preparing for Jimmer to be drafted into the world’s most prominent basketball league, suddenly we saw a very familiar face approaching us. To our pleasant surprise, it was the world renowned sports reporter, Craig Sager. He introduced himself, telling us that he was a big fan of Jimmer, and that he had been looking forward to meeting him. We were thrilled to meet him as well, as we had always thoroughly enjoyed Craig and the entertaining ways in which he conducted his infamous sideline interviews. Then after a couple minutes of getting to know him a little bit, he hit us with a shocker, revealing to us that one of his best friends was actually from Glens Falls, NY – our hometown. We obviously thought that that was pretty cool, and it opened up the conversation to some nostalgia as we discussed his experiences with our small town, such as the lifechanging moment when he had the privilege of enjoying a Dirty John’s hotdog (anyone from the Glens Falls area knows what that’s all about). Then what Craig Sager did next, would surely become the favorite of my Jimmer draft night stories. He told us that he had a surprise for us, and that if we could wait right where we were for a moment, he would be right back with the surprise. Well, of course the opportunity to receive a surprise from Craig Sager was reason enough for us to stay put. So we anxiously waited for Craig to return with this mysterious surprise. After waiting for a while, it got to the point where Jimmer was becoming crunched for time, as he had a very strict schedule to keep. Jimmer told us that he was gonna have to leave, but that we should tell Craig it was great meeting him and he was sorry he couldn’t stick around for the surprise. Then right as Jimmer was about to take off, suddenly we hear this loud chant coming from down the hallway…  JIM-MER! JIM-MER! JIM-MER! Stunned by the unusual turn of events, all eyes in the lobby were immediately fixated on the long string of red-shirted Jimmer fans, chanting his name as they made their way towards him. But the best thing about this forever memorable moment, was when we realized who it was that was leading this spirited charge. As we looked on collectively with the rest of the crowded lobby, we suddenly came to the realization that it was Craig Sager himself, chanting Jimmer’s name as he sported a bright red Glens Falls Nation T-shirt. He had met up with his good friend and the large Glens Falls contingency to show Jimmer support on his big day.

What a phenomenal memory Craig Sager left us with on that special night. He was such a kind-hearted man, and to me, his amazing display of support for my little brother, who he had never met before, spoke volumes about his character. With this very kind act, he surely forever etched a special place in my heart. He was an incredible man, and he will definitely be greatly missed. So I just wanted to take this time to share this wonderful memory that Craig left me and my family with, and also offer my sincere condolences to the Sager family. Rest in peace Craig, we all love ya. Thank you so much for the memories.

JIMMER UPDATE – PICTURES

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The hot streak for Jimmer and the Shanghai Sharks continues! Over the past four days the sharks have pulled out two close wins, both of which were hard fought, down to the wire slugfests. Yesterday, Jimmer had a 42 point showing in a game that looked like it might slip away from the sharks, when they fell behind by 5 points late in the 4th quarter. However, the squad was able to dig deep, work together, and gut their way to another important victory, bringing themselves to a 15 and 1 record on the season! The game prior to last nights game was an overtime thriller. . . one in which Jimmer and former Sharks player, A.J Price, embarked in a 3 point shootout in the final minutes of the overtime period. Jimmer, as in many case this season, was able to have the last word, hitting a quintessential Jimmer Range dagger from 30 feet to seal the grind out W.    Jimmer’s final stat-line for the game was video game worthy, as he put 47 points, and more impressively a career high 17 rebounds! In my typical corny, light-hearted, one-liner fashion, I joked with him after the game that we’d have to start calling him “the carpenter” for the way he’s hitting the boards!

Jimmer’s on the court successes in Shanghai have certainly been praise worthy. Unfortunately, when it comes to buying milk, that same level of success was not obtained this past week. While Jimmer and my father were recently grocery shopping, they purchased a carton of what looked like milk. Later on that night, when Jimmer opened up the carton, hoping to pour some milk on to his cereal, he was surprisingly treated to a thick plop of yogurt splashing down into his bowl instead.

So the next day my father returns to the store on a mission to this time actually purchase milk. With none of the cartons in the cooler aisle being see-through, combined with my fathers inability to read Chinese, finding milk was much more of a challenging task that you might think. Determined to walk out of that store with a carton of milk, my father then began to ask all of the store clerks if they had milk. This turned out to be another challenging task, as the language barrier proved to be impenetrable. However, after many frustrating, failing attempts to communicate with the various clerks in the store, finally one lady came up to my father, and in a thick accent says to him, “milk?” Thrilled to hear the word milk finally coming out of one of the worker’s mouths, with a big smile my Dad cheerfully replies, “MILK yes MILK.” The lady then proceeds to point to a specific carton in the aisle. Now feeling triumphant, my father repeatedly thanks the woman as he grabs the carton she pointed to from the shelf. He then purchases the item with his Chinese currency, walks out of the store, and heads back to the apartment, feeling like a million bucks.

That night, when Jimmer is ready once again to have a bowl of cereal for a snack, my father eagerly says to him that he finally was able to buy some real milk. Jimmer is delighted as he pours his cereal into a bowl. He then proceeds to grab the milk carton from the refrigerator and opens it up to pour it on to his cereal. This time Jimmer is pleasantly treated to a liquid pouring down on his cereal, as opposed to the thick yogurt substance that funneled down on it the last time.  Unfortunately, much to his chagrin, that liquid was also not milk, it was just a more drinkable form of yogurt.

In closing, I would say that Jimmer and my father have so far done very well overall in China. They have been able to accomplish a lot for two American guys who don’t speak a lick of Chinese. I guess that if having an overly abundant supply of drinkable yogurt is the harshest result of not being able to communicate with others in their community, then it’s fair to say that things could be worse.

Here are some pictures from Jimmer:

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Jimmer in front of beautifully colored buildings in a district called “The Bund.”

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Yup they got a Best Buy over there too. This is the entrance to a beautiful mall.

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Beautiful sunset…they are 12 hours ahead of us normally but with the time change it’s 13 hours ahead now.

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We didn’t think there would be any signs of Christmas over there but look what they found! Beautiful decorations just for those that celebrate it. Nice scene.

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Our Dad, Al, with the girlfriend of the other import on the team and the wife of the Australian assistant coach. “G”  is from France and not sure if his girlfriend is or not. Nice people too.

JIMMER UPDATE – new pictures

I guess at this point to say that things have started out well for Jimmer with his basketball career in China would be a pretty big understatement. Within the first 10 days of Jimmer’s arrival across the Pacific, he lead his Sharks to victory in a tournament championship in Singapore, sealing the deal with a 43 point performance that included 3 clutch game winning free throws with zero time left on the clock, and in the process receiving MVP honors. Now here we are, 14 games in, and Jimmer has helped propel the Sharks, a team who didn’t make the playoffs last season, to the number 1 ranked team in the CBA with a 13 – 1 record! Along the way, Jimmer has teetered at and around a 40 point per game average. He’s consistently gone back and forth as the leading scorer in a league that hosts a barrage of American talent, such as former NBA All-Stars Carlos Boozer and Josh Smith. . . just to name a couple. It has been a thrilling experience for my family and I, watching Jimmer wow crowds all over China with thrilling performances from the YouTube setting of our Apple TV. In his last two games, Jimmer was on the road, first putting up a 44 point showing against one of the leagues top teams… a performance which I would argue is his best so far, shooting an outstanding 18 of 27 from the field. He then followed that game up with a 36 point game Sunday night, an outing where Jimmer only played half of the game due to CBA rules involving imported players (players who are not Chinese citizens).

In my first Jimmer update, I ended my blog by saying, “Could this be the beginning of Jimmermania in China?”  Now, 14 games into the season, I would say that it looks like that could very possibly end up being the case. Jimmer has begun being recognized readily on the streets of Shanghai, being stopped frequently by eager fans for autographs and selfies. Jimmer also just recenlty signed a shoe deal with a company called 361! More to come on that soon. . .

The excitement is well underway in Shanghai, and the Sharks prolific owner, Yao Ming, has certainly become a strong believer in the potential of his red hot ball club. Recently my father, who is now back over in China with Jimmer, was asked by an acquaintance if he could deliver a book to Yao on his behalf. Without knowing the details of the book or what it is all about, my father obliged, and when he encountered Yao the other day, he tried to give him the book. Yao looked at my father and said, “A book? No sorry, I can’t take a book.” My father was kind of puzzled by Yao’s response. Yao then elaborated on why he couldn’t take the book. You see, in the Chinese language, the way that you say words, can at times be just as important as what words you actually say. The tone and voice inflection that you use when reciting a word can be very crucial. So Yao politely explained to my father that the word “BOOK”, is enunciated in the same tone and inflection as the word “LOSE,”and as a result, it would be bad luck for Yao to accept a book during the season. Not wanting to jinx his squad, Yao respectfully declined, but said he would gladly accept the book when the season is over. This says to me that the great Yao is all in! He wants his team to reach it’s full potential, and he’s not willing to do ANYTHING to gamble with that in anyway! I must say, I absolutely loved hearing that story. I’ve always loved and respected Yao Ming, but the more I hear about him, the more and more I like him!

The Sharks are on a roll! Can they take this momentum all the way to the CBA finals? Could Yao have just constructed the team, with his superstar American import (Jimmer), that will bring a CBA title to Shanghai? I certainly don’t want to make any predictions or get too far ahead of myself, but I must say, with the way the Sharks are playing right now, they are gonna be ONE TOUGH TEAM TO BEAT. So let’s keep it rolling Sharks!! You’re certainly doing Shanghai very proud.

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