first thing first before the game

FROM CHINA TO DENVER – THE ONE CONSTANT FOR JIMMER

If the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun,” has any merit, and I believe it does, then Jimmer’s trip home to Denver over Chinese New Year break must have felt like it was over within less than a nano second. I mean let’s face it, when you’re dealing with a 13 hour flight one way, the amount of hours you spend relaxing on your four day trip is literally almost equivalent to the amount of hours you spend in the air. Some might say that with that kind of flight to vacation time ratio, the long haul across the planet might not have even been worth the jet lag for Jimmer. However, I guess anyone who would say that, surely didn’t take into account exactly what Jimmer was going home for.

The drastic ups and downs of Jimmer’s roller coaster of a career could make the rides at Six Flags look like a slide at Chuck E. Cheese. The highs and lows can be overwhelming, and at times be very difficult to put into proper perspective. Fortunately for Jimmer, throughout it all, there has always been one crucial constant. Whether he was lighting it up at the Garden, sitting at the end of the bench in New Orleans, gazing out the window of his hotel room after a D League back to back in Des Moines, with 30 below winds whipping across the cornfields outside, or he was clear across the Pacific Ocean, hitting game winning free throws in Singapore in front of a crowd full of ecstatic non-English speaking fans, he’s always had that one constant to help him stay grounded. That one constant, is the exact thing that he was beyond thrilled to hop on a 13 hour flight last week to go see…. even if it was only for a short while. That one constant, is his family. His wife Whitney who he adores, and who is now carrying their first child due to be born in less than a month, and his picture perfect Golden Retriever named George, who lights up like a stadium every time Jimmer returns home. His family was there before the fame, during the fame, and will still be there when the fame is long gone. They’ve been there through his most challenging moments, to take on his struggles with him, and help lift him up when the pitfalls of an unforgiving spotlight tried to keep him down. They were there to celebrate with him, when the thrills of success were thrust upon him in abundance. They were there to help him make some of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make in his life (well, maybe George had no part in the decision making process, but certainly Whitney). Those tough decisions include the decision to make a heartfelt sacrifice to leave his family behind and travel across the world to begin a new, exciting, but somewhat scary chapter of his career, in a country that he had never been to, and really knew nothing about. They were there through it all, and are there at this very moment, as his career in China begins to soar to heights we never knew would be possible on another continent.  Knowing that they are there. . . there at home, waiting for him to return after months of being away. . . there on those days when it seems like everything on the court is going against him. . . there when a sports reporter paints  a picture of negativity on the canvas of his career, there when he puts up 51 and leads his team to a big victory. . . but even more importantly, there when everything goes quiet, when the spotlight is no longer targeting his every step, when the critics no longer have him on their radar, and the fans have moved on to the next big thing. Those are the moments when Jimmer realizes more than ever, that he already has everything he needs. His wife, and his family…that is the one constant. They are what made 26 total hours on a plane for only a four day stay, way beyond worth it for Jimmer. They are always there, and that’s what keeps him grounded, and that’s what keeps him happy. . . no matter what.

…Now for a quick update on the Sharks. Coming off of the Chinese New Year Break, the Sharks were able to fight off a rusty start, to come back after being down 14 points to Qingdao, picking up another big victory and keeping their undefeated home streak alive. Jimmer lead the team with 37. Now the Sharks prepare for the last couple weeks of the regular season as they fight tooth and nail to enter the playoff picture as the number one seed. With some red hot teams out there neck and neck with the Sharks, such as Carlos Boozer and the Guangdong Southern Tigers, hanging on to that one seed will certainly be a challenge – but one I believe that Shanghai is up for! Stay tuned to see how the rest of this exciting regular season unfolds, as the CBA gears up for an intense, competitive playoff run!

Here are some pictures and a video of some of the beautiful sites in Shanghai.

george-and-crew

jimmer-whitney This is why he traveled so far for only 4 days at home.

jimmer-whit

whitney-jimmer-baby-almost-here

and baby makes 3… but 4 when you count George

 

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0b9cd880cb98f6d41ac4bb578a95f5ff                                 back to work….

all-star-game        jimmer-being-interviewed            china-pic

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

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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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.