TEAM FREDETTE

TEAM FREDETTE…..It’s a name in the sport’s world that was first known nationally because of the TBT basketball tournament.  TBT stands for THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT so putting the basketball tournament at the end of that last sentence is sort of redundant but it’s for those that aren’t aware of those initials. 

Last year in the 2018 TBT, Team Fredette came up just short of the finals in a thrilling succession of wins to get there. Jimmer played on the team at the request of his older brother TJ, who is co-manager along with Dan Britten.  For the last 3 years, Tj recruited and put together a great group of talented guys and a coach who would become Team Fredette.  This year Jimmer did not play but was assistant coach (for the opening game in Salt Lake) along with his former BYU coach, Dave Rose.  I loved seeing them together once more.  Again Tj recruited a great group of guys, but unfortunately suffered a very close loss in the second round. 

Their claim to fame in the TBT so far is that Team Fredette staged the greatest comeback in TBT history to come from behind by over 20 points in the second half, which by the way is only 18 minutes long in TBT.  They put on a shooting display that was phenomenal.  Very exciting. The next game could have gone either way in the end, but it was not meant to be.  Besides being a little frustrating at times, it’s an exciting and enjoyable experience for all that are a part of that team, not only for the basketball, but for the social atmosphere and lifelong friendships that have been formed. 

More recently and locally, the TEAM FREDETTE name has been used for a 5 week summer basketball league. It was something that we had never tried before so we didn’t know what to expect.  A parent named James Cuyler, actually came to us the year before and asked our permission to use the TEAM FREDETTE name to start a summer league over in another area park. We want to give him credit for initiating the program. He does a great job encouraging and recruiting kids to join the league. This year we decided to bring the program over to Crandall Park in Glens Falls, which is a more visible venue to the public.  We weren’t sure about how many would sign up for the league and if we would have enough kids to form teams to play each other.  To our surprise, over 130 kids signed up (boys and girls)…. so we all got to work.  

Coming from a very sports orientated family, I can say that I have watched hundreds, if not thousands, of games over my lifetime. My father was a coach for over 35 years, 3 brothers played and coached, my 3 children played, my husband played and coached and even now my grandchildren are playing…over the years I have watched summer leagues, AAU, middle school and high school games, college games, professional games and still going. 

So for me to sit and watch this Team Fredette Summer Basketball League was second nature to me. I parked myself under a shade tree with a table in front of me. I guess I had the easiest job at the games because I was sort of the information table and could direct them to bottles of water or distribute what was needed like extra shirts, schedules, whistles, tape, pencils, etc.  On a side note, the chair that I brought and sat in at every game was my father’s sturdy, colorful, folding chair. It was one of the things I saved for myself after he passed on.  He has been long gone but it seems like the chair has a spirit of its own and the auro around it still lingers. Maybe his spirit is still there.  It was the one that he used to sit in at every game that he could find to watch after he was retired from teaching and coaching… high school summer basketball league games, football games, soccer games, baseball games, including his grandchildren’s games.  He would sit there with his sharp coaching eyes and access the talent that he was seeing. I feel like I carry on that tradition….something about that chair. Maybe someday one of my children will keep it.  I hope so.  

I absolutely loved watching the kids play.  It was a wonderful action-packed family atmosphere with parents and grandparents gathered on the grass to watch their kids.  There was soccer and softball going on also at the same time in the fields. Lots of action! To me, it felt like old times and brought back memories of the many times our kids played at Crandall Park.  I remember how excited Jimmer was to finally be old enough to play with his older brother TJ and father in pick up games on those courts. Crandall Park has a real history to it with our family.  How good it felt to see this new generation of kids playing and enjoying team basketball on these courts again.  As I watched the kids, both boys and girls, because of my background and maybe because of that chair, I could pick out the kids that were advanced in their skills, the kids that had that real killer instinct in sports, the kids that had no idea how to play, the kids that had obviously been taught some fundamentals of the game, and then the kids that were only there because their parents wanted them to have some physical activity this summer. That was ok too!  But I can tell you for sure, by the end of those 5 weeks, the kids learned how to run up and down the court and be a part of a team.  The first few games on the courts were not easy because it was very hot and very humid so I have to hand it to the kids, as well as the coaches and refs, for hanging in there throughout it all.

Our son Tj was gone for most of the league because he was out West at the TBT tournament with our professional Team Fredette but he was able to be at the last few games at Crandall Park.  He said he enjoyed the fun atmosphere of the league and was able to talk to some groups about the importance of setting goals.  He told the story about “The Contract” that he entered into with Jimmer. We actually still have the original contract written on that beige crummy paper. As long as I can remember, Jimmer’s goal was to be a professional basketball player and make it to the NBA.  Even way back to grade school when the kids were expected to write something in their journal everyday, Jimmer always wrote about something pertaining to basketball.  He never wavered from his belief that he was going to play in the NBA someday and wrote down many times that he was going to make it to the NBA even though he was only in the 3rd grade. I still have the journals. Somehow he absolutely knew what his future was going to be. I know that a lot of kids say that when they are young and we all think it’s cute… but Jimmer really meant it! He lived and breathed it.  The seed was planted in his brain at about the age of 3 and that desire just grew and grew.  One day as Tj watched him workout in high school, he could see that Jimmer had real talent and fire in his eyes, so that day TJ whipped out that old piece of paper, quickly drew up a contract that Jimmer signed, as well as Tj as a witness, saying that he was setting a goal to do all of the work necessary to make it to the NBA.  TJ half jokingly said, (but was actually serious), something to the effect that you know Jimmer this is a legally binding contract so you can’t break it. Jimmer didn’t joke at all.  He was never going to break that contract so he worked hard every day with that unshakable determination and commitment to reach that goal…and he did it!  So with one of the groups, Tj talked about the importance of setting goals…some short term goals and some long term goals. He told them that it doesn’t have to be in basketball or even in any sport, but find out what your passion is and go work towards meeting your goals with that passion. Plant the seed in your brain and go get it…and your never too old to set goals for yourself.  

In our program we try to instill in them the value of making good decisions in their lives.  Good decisions build good character. Our mission statement is simple and the intent of our programs is this:

“Team Fredette’s mission is to help young people strengthen their character through training and playing fundamentally sound, competitive basketball.

Players will be strongly encouraged and reminded often how important good choices will be for their future.

Players will learn the importance of respect, including self- respect, manners, self- control, hard work, teamwork and sacrifice.”

I said this before but I will say it again…never once during that whole 5 week session did I hear any swearing, see any fighting or trash talking, and saw no one intentionally trip or try to hurt another player.  Instead I saw kids that encouraged their teammates, gave up shots to pass to their teammates, helped each other up if they fell on the court, pats on the back or high fives after making shots or a good pass, and on an on. Always a thank you and please when asking me for something.  Kids offered to help us carry things back and forth to the car.   I saw friendships formed after starting out a little shy or hesitant about playing with kids that they didn’t know.  They all grew in many ways, maybe learned a little bit about the game, about interaction with other kids, about teamwork, and hopefully they will take some lasting memories of their time in the TEAM FREDETTE SUMMER LEAGUE.  I know that I will.  It was wonderful to see.

Before I close I have to thank so many people.  I hesitate to mention any names because I don’t want to leave anyone out but here goes…First and foremost, we want to thank the Buttino family, Debi, Nick, Dante and Tia. I don’t know what we would have done without their help. They drove down from Chestertown every week (3 times a week) lugging tables, chairs, basketballs, water, and the kitchen sink. They came early to help set up and at the end help clean up. They loaded up their van and then helped to load up our car at the end of the night. Debi spent countless hours on the computer sending emails out to all of the registrants to keep them informed, answering the phone and answering the many questions that the parents had.   Things kept changing because of parent’s requests so she had to keep updating the registrants on a daily basis or hourly basis sometimes. She did a great job and she did it cheerfully.  She also took many pictures and downloaded them on the Team Fredette facebook page.  Way to go Debi!  

Nick Buttino is one of nicest men on the face of the Earth.  I really mean that.  He is kind. He is helpful. He is encouraging to all of the kids.  He is patient and he is humble.  He carried those scoring tables in and out of his van at every game.  He helped to coach where needed. He kept score and kept time with the blazing sun shining down on him throughout the games. He was there at every single game and all we had to do is to ask him anything and he would do it.  What a tremendous help he was.  Thank you Nick. 

Their children Dante and Tia played on their separate teams, but they also helped us in any way that they could.  They were referees, they coached, and they carried things in and out of the vehicles.  Their help was invaluable to us and we thank them so much. They are following the example of their parents to be helpful and to give service.  Wonderful kids and I’ll miss seeing them. 

A big debt of gratitude to Brian Travis who traveled to be with us and help with coaching, reffing, even playing one time to fill in for a missing kid on a team.  He gave of his time to have many free sessions of basketball training in the oppressive heat. He would drive up after a long day at work to help in any way that he could.  He is a skilled and knowledgeable basketball and agility trainer and we are happy to have him on board with Team Fredette for our Contract Training program.  Josh Horton, a former Argyle high school and college player, joined us for a few sessions to help with basketball drills and training methods.  He is a terrific guy and a great basketball player also and we thank him so much.

James Cuyler came to every game to coach his son’s team and any team that needed a coach.  He also reffed many games. I could hear him shout out encouraging, constructive words to his teams.  James is a part of Team Fredette and will also be working in our “Contract Training” program.  He recently was hired by the North Warren School system to be a head coach for the varsity team. He’ll be one busy guy. Thank you James for all that you do for Team Fredette.

To the parents…thank you for your support of our Team Fredette Summer League and beyond.  Without you, of course there would be no local Team Fredette.  Thank you to the parents that volunteered to coach or to ref, to keep the score, and the time or do anything that was helpful to us.  Thank you for bringing your children each week and staying to watch them. Thank you to the grandparents that came to watch also.  You don’t realize how important it is to show an interest in your children or grandchildren’s endeavors no matter what it is. They need your approval, encouragement and attention as they are forming their self image and building their self-confidence little by little.  I could see the thrill in the kid’s eyes as they made a basket or made a good pass, and they would look over to see if their loved ones were watching. Makes me happy just thinking about their reaction when they knew they did good in their parent’s eyes. 

To all of those that came to fill in for Al or help in any way, thank you!!! I don’t want to name names for fear of missing someone but you know who you are. There is a group of friends that are always willing to help us. Thank you to the refs that came in their “official” reffing shirts.  That always gives a special mental boost to those kids playing in those games.

Also a big thank you to the Glens Falls City Hall Rec. Dept for allowing us to reserve those 2 Crandall Park courts for the 5 weeks of basketball.  The city workers were kind enough to bring benches and picnic tables over for the convenience and comfort of the teams and the parents. Also for the days it rained, we are so grateful to Sam at the Ft. Edward school for allowing us to use the High School gym. You were a lifesaver! Thank you! 

Last, but not least, since it’s me that writing this, I’d like to acknowledge all of the work that my husband Al and my children do to help this venture of Team Fredette. Al did a tremendous amount of work to put the summer league teams together.  Believe me it wasn’t an easy job.  He worked long into the night to get them all set. Our daughter Lindsay is a whiz on the computer so she is a great asset for us and always willing to help in any way she can.  Tj will oversee everything.  He likes organization.  He will also do agility/basketball training in Contract Training.  He’s very knowledgeable in both basketball and agility training because he has been around it for so long.  He trained also as a little guy with his uncle Lee Taft, one of the best in the world.  TJ is also a great motivational speaker so it’s something that we will incorporate into Team Fredette from time to time.  Then there is Jimmer who has limited time but is always willing to help and appear at anything we ask him to do.  He never hesitates. If he can do it, he will do it for us. He keeps an eye on all that we do and enjoys watching the kids learn and grow like he did.  He is actually coming to Glens Falls for a short stay (has to be best man in a family wedding) and agreed to do an appearance at the clinic we have planned for August 31st.  Lee Taft, my brother, has also agreed to come to do the clinic with his great knowledge and experience of teaching agility, speed, footwork etc.  He has agreed to be someone that we can always consult if there are any questions from us or the parents of our athletes.  Thank you to him. We are so thrilled and grateful to both Lee and Jimmer to give up their time and energy to do this for Team Fredette.

One more thing….a professional photographer, who is also a huge basketball fan, happened to be there at the park when the league started. After seeing all that was going on he came back the next day to take some wonderful pictures of the whole scene.  I’ve seen some of them and they are beautifully done.  He will have them available soon for any parent that wants to purchase one of their son or daughter.  We will let you know. 

So that’s it!  Team Fredette has a lot of help from many different people and without them it wouldn’t be possible.  Al and I are not young chickens anymore so we appreciate all the help we can get. It was a labor of love for our area youth. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Kay

Here is the link in case you are interested in registering your child for the clinic coming up in 2 weeks. What a deal you are getting! 

https://campscui.active.com/orgs/JimmerJamBasketballCamp?season=2684708

team fredette summer campsummer league 5team fredette summer league2

girls summer drills crandal park

 

 

tj talking to girls

contract 1

The famous contract…mispelled word and all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jimmer and China

A few weeks ago an article was written about Jimmer and his basketball season in China with the Shanghai Sharks.  It was brought to our attention that the article painted a negative picture of his life over there.  I didn’t think about that at the time when I first read it so I went back to read it over again.  I guess I can see what they mean.   It does sound a little bit bleak in some of the writer’s assessment of Jimmer’s life over there. He’s a really nice guy and a good writer but I think that maybe he was going for the dramatic affect and maybe his perception of what he saw was a little different than what Jimmer and my husband (who has spent many weeks over there) know to be true.  Some of his description of things over there made it seem a little more lonely or negative than it actually is for Jimmer.  Maybe the name “Jimo Dashen”, meaning the lonely master, got to the journalist.

After the article appeared in the Deseret News, another man, who currently lives in Shanghai and has met Jimmer, took offense to the the article because of the perceived dreary portrayal of Shanghai and published a rebuttal blog post. (Both articles are on my Facebook page) I must say after reading his blog , I can appreciate his thoughts on the Deseret News article.   I am actually grateful to him for bringing this to our attention. I didn’t think that people would take it that way but I guess some people did.  The last thing Jimmer and our family would want to do is to offend, in any way, the Chinese people and the great city of Shanghai. So I wanted to set the record straight concerning that.

My husband Al went over to China with Jimmer on the first trip last year.  I was so glad that Al was going to accompany him because, let’s face it, going that far away in a strange land, not knowing the language or what to expect, is a little intimidating for anyone. Jimmer’s wife was pregnant at the time, and understandably, she couldn’t go with him.  Not only is the length of the flight tough, but the time change throws you off for a few days, along with the jet lag.  They both were wiped out but also excited for the new adventure.

Right from the start, the Shark management, took good care of Jimmer.  They met him at the airport and had a Chinese English speaking gentleman, “Teddy”, who came to be Al and Jimmer’s sidekick for the entire time that they were there with the Sharks.  Al said he is such a great guy who wanted to make sure that they were comfortable and well taken care of during their stay in China. He would take the time to explain so many things to Al and Jimmer about the culture and their monetary system.  They got the hang of it pretty quickly, but if it were me, I’d still be wrestling with it.   Teddy was there to “show them the ropes” of  Shanghai.   He would teach them, or make suggestions as to what they should do and what they should not do so they would not inadvertently offend the Chinese people.   For example one of the first team dinners they had, they all were expected to take a drink of Saki (Sake) to honor the team and the coaches before the start of the season.  It’s customary over there to drink and toast this or that.  The interpreter explained to Al and Jimmer that it was considered disrespectful if you didn’t participate in the drinking part. It put Jimmer, as well as Al, in an awkward position because they don’t drink at all, but yet as the new guys, they didn’t want to give the impression that they were being anti-social or disrespectful.  Jimmer explained to the interpreter beforehand that he and his father were not going to drink anything other than water or something non-alcoholic when they did the toasts.  So that’s what they did….they raised their glasses of water for their toast.   Once it was explained to them (the team) by the interpreter, they all understood.  That’s just the way it was going to be.

They had a driver that took them to Jimmer’s apartment in downtown Shanghai and would be there the whole season to get him to the games and practices on time.  At the games there is always an interpreter for the import players (2 imports for each team) because the head coach didn’t speak much English at all.  The assistant coach was American but lived in Australia so he could help with the language barrier also.  I’m sure it was very confusing at first for Jimmer but he adjusted really well.  After all, it was basketball….something that he could figure out no matter what language they were speaking.  Surprisingly enough, he said that most of his teammates spoke English.  Some of them better than others.  That was very helpful.  I’m sure that they learned some things from Jimmer and he learned some things from them as well.  But ultimately, it was the team camaraderie that they felt.  Regardless of the language, they came to feel a bond with one another.  Jimmer genuinely has fond feelings and appreciates his teammates, his coaches, the trainers, and the entire staff of the Sharks organization as they reciprocated those feelings for him.  They support and encourage one another.

Now a few words about his apartment….  I know the first article mentioned that the apartment seemed lonely and cold, devoid of the homey feel that one might like.  My first thought was what young professional athlete, who is temporarily living away from their permanent home, cares about where they are staying as long as it is relatively clean, has a kitchen, TV, and a bed?  What athlete would go out and buy homey things like colorful throw pillows and accessories to liven up a temporary place?  Only a mother would do that, and to be honest, if I was over there, then I probably would have done that.  Wouldn’t have mattered one bit to Jimmer and to most guys, but it would have mattered to me.  Us mothers are like that sometimes.  I remember when Jimmer was staying in Westchester County for the Knick’s D league.  His apartment was in a high rise building.  It was small but nice.  When Al and I went to visit the first time, and this was before Whitney got there, it was bugging me that the couch was in the wrong position in the room and so were the coffee table, rug and lamps.  He had to go out to go to practice for a few hours and when he came back, I had completely rearranged the furniture.  Even though it had a small amount of furniture there, I thought the placement of it was crucial for Jimmer’s utmost comfort and coziness.  At least it was in my mind and it was important to me that he was comfortable.  Jimmer didn’t care one way or another but graciously told me that it looked nice when he came back.  He is a really neat person so it was never messy, but now I felt that it was a little more homey for him.  So I’m sure over in China, the apartment was just fine for him and didn’t signify loneliness or anything for that matter. It’s just what they had provided for him and it was fine.  The location was great. One of the first things that I asked Jimmer to do when he got there was to give me a tour of the place by facetime.  My thoughts were that it looked very clean and shining with beautiful hardwood floors.  It had more of a modern contemporary feel to it. He had at least one flat screen TVs, (maybe two), a washer and dryer and a kitchen. He was all set.  Was it cozy looking?…probably not by most mom’s standards, but it was nice.  If he has a TV and his ipad to facetime his family, that’s all that he needs.  As I said before,  I think the writer of the article just perceived it to be lonely looking for the dramatic effect of his story.  When I saw a recent video of his apartment, he had so many colorful sneakers around that it would be hard to feel down with all of that bright neon color! Who needs throw pillows for color when you have those brightly colored sneakers?

Both Jimmer and Al have told me of the beauty of the city of Shanghai.  There are flowers everywhere, interesting statues and art sculptures, beautiful high rise buildings that light up the sky with color at night, there is a Disney World amusement park, there are stores and malls so big that Al got lost in a few, there are street vendors eager to barter with you.  So many things to see and experience. So much history.   The first article mentioned the smog and bad air over in China.  Yes there are times that people choose to wear masks to shield themselves from an especially bad day, but as the man said in the blog, parts of Utah, where the man used to live, and many other cities have bad smoggy air sometimes too, so you can’t define a city with just that.  I have experienced it myself in Utah.  It’s what they call Inversion. It would be nice to be able to wave a magic wand and bring in clean air but with large cities or areas with so many factories and traffic, it’s hard to keep it under control.  I know the writer of the first article was going for the gritty feel of the city of Shanghai and maybe it added to the dramatic theme of his story, but it wasn’t really an issue for Al or for Jimmer.

I remember Whitney saying that she felt so safe over there.  It’s probably because they have guards to monitor the streets for any signs of trouble.  Even at the games they have guards to keep order if it is needed.  I was worried that Al was going to be taken away if he didn’t stop yelling so much at the refs.  Ha!  I think they gave him a pass because he was Jimmer’s father.   It’s a Communist country and it’s something that you have to always keep in mind.  They do some things differently than we do here in the USA.

I think when Al went over there with Jimmer the first time, he was worried about what he was going to eat. Yup he’s always worried about that.   It’s no secret that when going to a different country, you may have to adjust to their cuisine. One of the first things Al said to me when we finally talked for the first time was that the food was amazing in Shanghai.  Anything that you can get over here in the USA, you can get over there. There is a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Wendy’s, lots of pizza places, seafood places. steak places, dessert places, fine dining places etc. etc. Anything that you want to eat, you can get….even great ice cream places.  I know that because I saw pictures of Jimmer and Whitney’s little girl with chocolate ice cream on her face.    He tries to eat healthy things to stay in shape so maybe it’s hard to decide what to eat sometimes, but the choices are certainly there. Are there places in China where the food is less desirable and inferior than in Shanghai?  Absolutely.  The team travels to some rural areas during the season that can’t provide all of the food options of Shanghai, but they plan for that and bring food for the team or the guys can bring their own snacks. There is sometimes the threat of food poisoning for the team members, or not being able to tolerate certain foods that they are not used to, so they have to be careful of that.  As a matter of fact, one of the imports did suffer from a bout of food poisoning and had to sit out a game.  But that’s also true for athletes or anyone in the USA…. or any country for that matter.

The article mentioned something about Jimmer just watched TV or movies in his downtime, and that’s probably true when he was alone, but when someone is over there with him, he ventures out on the streets and takes advantage of all there is to see. I think most people are like that.  It’s much more fun to have someone to share those things with than doing it on your own.  He goes out to the occasional get together or dinner with the coaches and team.  He goes out to shop when he wants or needs to go to a store.  When you’ve seen just about everything that there is to see in your area, what more can you do by yourself?  Besides Jimmer has time restraints everyday because everything is centered around practices, shoot arounds, travel and games. Sometimes he has to do endorsement obligations that can take up quite a bit of time.  That’s his job.  The time that he does have off, which is not much, he probably likes to stay put and relax from the exhaustion of a very busy schedule. I know one thing that he enjoys every day and does it as many times as he can in a day….. and that is Facetime with his family.  Thank heavens for modern technology.  It makes being away from your family a little more tolerable for the many people that have jobs far away from them.

I mentioned this before on Facebook but I’ll say it again, one thing I disagreed with wholeheartedly in the article is the statement that the writer made about Jimmer having no rhythm and not being about to dance.  What?!!!  Jimmer is known for being a terrific dancer.  That assessment most likely comes from a person that can’t dance at all so it’s hard to pick out a good dancer if you have no dancing skills of your own.  It has been my opinion over the years that most athletes can dance.  They are born with good hand/eye coordination and can find that rhythm when they hear a beat.  I have 3 brothers that were all good athletes and everyone of them can dance really well.  So does my other son and daughter…both good athletes.  Of course there are always exceptions to the rule but generally, athletes can dance.  So I really took offense to that comment.  It made him sound like he was awkward on the dance floor and nothing can be further from the truth.  The video that the guy put up of Jimmer and the wedding crew was a fun day for them.  Any confusion of the dance moves was because they put that dance together pretty quickly and had to perform under pressure for the bride and wedding guests.  Ha Ha.   It was fun to watch.

The CBA….I know that people say that the Chinese basketball league is an inferior league and it’s not as good as the NBA or the Euro-league and that’s probably true about the NBA,  but the Euro league, that’s just a matter of opinion.  Yes the NBA has the top basketball players in the world but there are some players that have been cut from the NBA, gone over to the CBA, and then work their way back to the NBA. There are a couple of Chinese players that played in the NBA for a few seasons but wanted to go back to play in their homeland. One example is a player named Yi Jianlian, who played for the Dallas Mavericks for a time. The competition in China can be a little weaker sometimes, depending on the team.  Some of the well known players that have played there or are still playing there, are Marshon Brooks, Carlos Boozer, JJ Hickson, Jason Thompson, Josh Smith, Gilbert Arenas, JR Smith, Metta World Peace, Tracey McGrady, Pooh Jeter, Chris Anderson (Birdman), Shavlik Randolph, Stephon Marbury of course, and many more. Some came over for a short time and went back to the NBA and some left basketball altogether but China was their choice of where to play, so it can’t be that bad.  Although the teams can only have 2 imports on a team, some of the Chinese players are very skilled, scrappy and can shoot the lights out!  It all depends on the team of course (that’s also true in the NBA) but to Jimmer, every game is a battle.  Because of his scoring abilities, he has become a target no matter where he plays.  To those who have said, oh of course he can score there, the competition is weak, I would challenge them to spend one game in Jimmer’s sneakers and see what it is like.  He is grabbed, scratched, tripped, elbowed, pushed, slapped and yes even head butted.  After some of the games he is sore and beat up. This season he came home with a black eye from an over zealous defender. They rotate fresh defensive players on him throughout a game in which their only assignment is to just stop Jimmer, never mind the ball, just stop him!  I don’t know how he can stand a guy two inches from his face all of the time and constantly touching him.  I guess he is used to it. The reffing is less than perfect (just ask my husband who has been there in person) so they let a lot of that kind of fouling happen for the most part.  Every once in awhile they will call a good game but seems like those games are few and far between.  I won’t say too much about that but there are articles written about the reffing in China and the CBA in general.  As I think back, I don’t even remember Jimmer being roughed up that bad in the NBA.  Almost every game is tough for him and I am still in awe of what he can do in spite of all of that.  But still he is enjoying it.  It’s a challenge and Jimmer always did love a challenge.  He is a starter and he plays the majority of the game. The worry that he is going to be taken out if he makes one mistake is gone.  The coach recognizes that sometimes he needs time to get warmed up and play through mistakes (a luxury he didn’t have in the NBA)….but when he catches that rhythm, watch out.  People sometimes think that Jimmer is just a shooter.  That was the misconception that the coaches had in the NBA.  They stuck him in the corner waiting for the ball that never came.  No doubt that he has the 3 point shooting talent, but I always say to people that he’s not just a shooter, he is a scorer, plain and simple. He’s been that type of player since he was a little boy.  He has a variety of shots.  He CAN create his own shot but I have heard so many announcers say that he can not.  Wow they haven’t really watched Jimmer if they say that.  That’s why he is so hard to stop.  If his 3 point shot is not working in some games, he tries something different.  He’ll take it in and score that way.  He is a great passer and sees the floor really well.  He is quicker and a lot stronger than people think.  You have to have a certain amount of strength and quickness to score like that.  So not only do the coaches and players in Shanghai have confidence in him, but he has gotten his own confidence back.  As a very astute and fair announcer said once when Jimmer was in the NBA, the talent that was on display at BYU has not gone away, it’s still there, but he hasn’t found the right situation yet where he can showcase that talent.  That was the frustration for all of us in the NBA.  That’s why going to China was a good move for him.  As the article said, he’s gotten his swagger back.  I could go on and on with this subject and my feelings, but I won’t.  I will move on.

I want to say something about the Chinese people.  Both Al and Jimmer have mentioned to me that they are the kindest, most loving, giving people that you would ever want to meet.  Very hard working.  He said that they have a sweet spirit about them… and they love their basketball.   Al has so many stories of encounters he has had with the Chinese people.  They are more than willing to help you if you just ask (and if they speak English.) He ventured out every day to experience some of the local color.  Sometimes he went with Jimmer if he had some free time, but mostly on his own. The population, of course, is mind blowing in Shanghai…about 24 million people, almost 3 times the population of NYC.  Some days are wall to wall people. Lots of activity and lots to see and do.   Sometimes Al got lost and sometimes he maneuvered himself around Shanghai pretty good.   He told me that because of Jimmer’s notoriety over there and the fact that Al’s face was frequently shown on TV during his games, that some people started to recognize him on the streets and asked for pictures with him.  He once walked by a group of armed guards that must have watched the games because they started talking back and forth with each other and as Al looked back, one of them was going through the motion of shooting a basketball.  They laughed as Al smiled and nodded yes at them.

My intention was not to slam the first article from the Deseret News about Jimmer’s life in China.  In fact, the journalist is a very good writer and the article was well written.  He spent alot of time researching it. He talked for hours with Al, Tj and his sister Lindsay on the phone. He flew over to Shanghai to spend some time with Jimmer.  If you scroll down to the end of his article, you will see a video in which he did a great job describing his findings of Jimmer’s life in China.  However, I just wanted to counteract any feelings that one might have had after reading it and coming away with the conclusion that Jimmer’s experience over there is not a good one.  On the contrary, it has been amazing.  Let’s just say that he is as happy as one can be living over there without his family by his side the majority of the time.  That’s probably where the journalist’s perceived melancholy feelings from Jimmer may have come from.  As Whitney said, he is pretty level headed and doesn’t get too high or too low.  He is a go with the flow type person.  To go back, one of the inaccurate comments in the article was that his brother TJ said that Jimmer became extremely depressed when he was with the Sacramento Kings.  Tj told me that he never used those words but rather he said that he was having a tough time.  When Jimmer heard that he quickly said that he wasn’t depressed and that was too strong a word, but frustrated was the correct word for the situation at the time. Again I guess for the writer, the word depressed was more dramatic. He was going through alot of adjustments.  I was there for his first year in the NBA so I was sharing in that frustration, as was all of our family. Did he get on his knees for strength and guidance as it was written in the article? I didn’t see that myself like Tj did, but I would say, knowing Jimmer, that it was absolutely true.  Jimmer is such a positive thinking person that he doesn’t dwell on things too much and moves forward.  Tj always told him that you have to have a “short memory” in sports. It’s a term used that means that you can’t stop to think about a mistake that you may have made on the court because otherwise if you do, you will loose your focus and it will take you mentally out of the game.  That term can also be used in life in general.  Have a short memory and not dwell on past mistakes or even the injustices that happen.  That is good advice. I think Jimmer lives his life like that.  He could have very easily harbored resentment against the NBA, but he chose to have that short memory and look ahead at other opportunities and it landed him into another round of Jimmermania.  He is grateful to everyone of his fans in the USA and now in China.  So yes after awhile when he is in China towards the end of the season, he is ready to come back to the USA because like anyone else, you can’t be totally happy without your family by your side. This is his job and it is a way to give his family a good life.  It’s also doing what he loves. He is so appreciative for the fans that he has, the people that he has met and the opportunities that he has been given.  I know that he has a grateful heart for his blesssings, as do we as his family.

One last thing that I really pondered a lot is when the article mentioned that this was not the way that it was suppose to happen. In other words, he was saying that Jimmer’s dream was that he was suppose to be successful and playing in the NBA and he wasn’t suppose to be playing in China.  My thoughts are maybe this is EXACTLY the way that it was suppose to happen. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, as they say, but sometimes it’s just the right pitch.  Life is not only about basketball. It’s about learning, and growing, and experiencing all kinds of things in our journey.  If he didn’t go to China, he would have not met all of the people that he has met. He would have not experienced another culture and learned about life in a country different than our own.  He would not have gotten the opportunities that were made available to him and will be in the future if he stayed sitting on the bench in the NBA.  He belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Who knows if he has influenced someone there in a largely non-Christian country to investigate what he believes.  Maybe there is a reason why he is there other than to play basketball.  Those are questions many people have thought about.  He has one more year under contract with the Shanghai Sharks.  After that who knows what will happen.  Maybe he will again play in the NBA and maybe he won’t, but make no mistake about it, Jimmer has alot of basketball left to be played and wherever he goes, he will bring with him the light that he has, a positive attitude, and a work ethic that any team would want.  Time will tell.

I have posted some pictures and a video to show you some of the experiences that he has had in China over the past two years.  The final video was last year when he won the MVP trophy.  What’s not to love over there?  The first 4 pictures were taken as he arrived back in China for the second season.  How great for a mother’s heart to see that.  Thank you to the Shanghai people.  Right now Jimmer is home in Colorado with his wife and his daughter (and their great dog George)….another perk of China basketball is that it’s a short season so it means more family time for him.

Take care everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Kay

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wes wit jimmer at bund

At a place called “THE BUND”.  Beautifully colored buildings to see.

wes wit at bund

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Wesley was the star on the streets.

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jimmer in China

got her Disney ears in Shanghai.

Jimmer giving talk in China

accepting an award

colorful scarves

Beautiful silk scarves that Al brought home for me.

jimmer and roger federer

Got to meet his all time favorite professional tennis players, Roger Federer, who had a tournament over there in China. He said he was a really nice guy. Liked him alot.

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memories of a lifetime

pink building

great wall

Great Wall of China in Bejiing…about 2 hours away from Shanghai.

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china photographer

Wonderful lady who was a photographer for the team.  Al said she is in her 80s.