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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HAPPY “KNEW” YEAR

As soon as that extravagantly bright, world renowned, giant crystal ball dropped in the mecca of New York on Saturday night, I knew that I was ready to make 2017 the greatest year of my life. However, yesterday (New Years Day) I took some time to reflect on 2016, and as I did, something fairly profound struck me.

Well before 2017 rang in, I already KNEW that there were things in my life that I really needed to work on.  I KNEW that I needed to work harder on trying to reach my goals. I KNEW that I had to get rid of the unnecessary negative thinking that plagued me at times. I KNEW that I needed to make a better effort at keeping in touch with the people who I care about the most. I KNEW that I needed to continue to strengthen my faith everyday, and that I had to keep on working towards being a more positive person. I KNEW that I needed to cut back on sweets and improve my diet. I KNEW that I needed to work on being a more tolerant person, and that I had to try to stop being judgemental.  I KNEW all of these things and more! So now the question becomes, if I already knew of these crucial changes I needed to make, then why in the world would I wait until January 1st to try and make them?

Unfortunately, every year as the New Year gets closer, we use our New Year’s resolutions as excuses to procrastinate doing the things we know we need to do.  It’s very easy to fall into the, “I’ll start doing this, or I’ll stop doing that after New Year’s” mentality. In all honesty, these are our lives. We know what we have to do. . . we KNEW it all along. From this point on, I believe we should make a vow to ourselves, that we will do our very best every single day to try and be better people in every aspect of our lives. So that means that when early December rolls around in 2017, and we notice we’re coming up short in some way, we won’t wait until January 1st to start making the improvements we need to make.  It also means that any shortcomings we vowed to work on when 2017 struck, we must continue working on as 2017 progresses and eventually comes to an end.

Life is a never ending quest for perfection, and even though we may not ever fully get there, it certainly doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying.  I hope you all have an amazing 2017. . . and remember, if you catch yourself slipping in any way, don’t wait until the New Year to fix it. . . you can always add in something new to work on once January 1st hits.

So Happy New Year to all, and whatever you want out of you life for 2017. . . start going after it now, and don’t stop unil you get it!!

Jimmer Update – Career high 51 pts.

Around 4:30 A.M. this past Friday morning (5:30 P.M. Shanghai time), while I laid fast asleep in my bed, my little brother Jimmer was just leaving his apartment in Shanghai to go to the nearby Pudong Yuanshen Gymnasium, where his Shanghai Sharks would soon be taking the court to battle the widely revered Guangdong Southern Tigers. As Jimmer stepped out of his apartment, walked by the stray dog that hangs out in front of his building (which he has named Hufflepuff), and entered the car which was ready and waiting to take him to the arena, he mentally went into his zone, focusing on nothing but the game. With a team featuring 3 very formidable former NBA players in Donald Sloan, China’s renowned Jianlian Yi, and former two time NBA All-Star (as well as Jimmer’s former Chicago Bulls teammate) Carlos Boozer, Jimmer knew that the Tigers would be his biggest challenge yet in his overseas career. When Jimmer entered the  Arena, he could tell that the vibe was very different than on any other game night up to that point. There was the kind of buzz in the air that only can truly be felt when a major event is about to take place. Jimmer is no stranger to that kind of buzz, and possibly more than anything else, it is that very kind of fuel that feeds him as an elite athlete.

So once this highly anticipated match up began, the 4,000 plus fans (just short of the arena’s maximum capacity) would waste no time in expressing their excitement with each Shark basket. Jimmer started out very patiently, similar to a boxer feeling out his opponent in the early rounds of a fight. With a bigger defender draped all over him by design, Jimmer had to strategically lull his defender to sleep before exploding towards the ball, creating just enough separation to receive passes from his teammates. After getting into the lane, creating contact, and working his way to the free throw line a couple times, Jimmer started to heat up. Then midway through the first quarter, Jimmer dribbled off of a screen and hit a tough, highly contested 3 from the top of the key. One possession later. . . Jimmer dribbles up on a fast break, stops on a dime, and sinks another contested 3 from the right wing. The crowd eats it up. They were absolutely loving it, and after Jimmer’s 2nd consecutive 3 pointer, you could hear the crowd gasp with anticipation the next time the ball was in his hands. So in typical Jimmer fashion, with the momentum all on his side and an arena full of fans ready to explode, he shows Shanghai where the term Jimmer range came from, as he pulled up and stuck a 3rd consecutive 3 pointer, this one from well beyond the ark, bringing the shark fans to their feet.

From that point on, Jimmer never let up. His dazzling drives to the basket and eye popping 3 pointers excited the crowd all night long, as Jimmer helped lead his team to a 111 – 88 victory over the Tigers, with a career high 51 points! By the end of the night, the fans were chanting MVP each time that Jimmer stepped to the foul line. Obviously this chant was all in fun, but even so, it certainly was a wonderful sign of respect, and a very congenial way for the fans to show how much they appreciated Jimmer’s amazing performance. Even NBA Hall of Famer and Celtic legend, Bill Walton, who was in the building enjoying the game Friday night, had to smile ear to ear as he watched Jimmer (who Bill knows well from his days announcing for the Sacramento Kings) put on a show. After the game, Bill, along with part time ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla, who was also in attendance, came into the Sharks locker room to chat with Jimmer, and congratulate him on a job well done.  Jimmer also had the chance to catch up with his former teammate and friend Carlos Boozer, who has always been very supportive of him. Carlos joked with Jimmer that despite wanting to win the game, he couldn’t help but enjoy the great show that Jimmer put on for the hometown fans.

In the end, this incredible performance by Jimmer sparked feelings of nostalgia for me personally. From Jimmer’s 30 point performance against Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – where he lead BYU to their first tournament win since the Danny Ainge era. . . to the 49 point performance against San Diego State, in what was at that time called the biggest game in Mountain West Conference history – and in my mind, the game that birthed Jimmermania. . . to his 52 point performance in Las Vegas against a New Mexico team that had beaten them twice already that season, to his 24 point performance as a Sacramento King against the Knicks at the Garden – the Mecca of basketball, where the lights shine brighter than anywhere else on the planet. . . to now. . . to now where Jimmer’s 51 point performance, in the biggest game in his career in China gave him a new career high, and a very meaningful victory. Now, if there is one thing that I’ve learned about my little brother – it’s that when the stage is at it’s biggest, and the lights are at their brightest. . . that is when Jimmer is at his best!

After winning another game last night (Sunday night) with a 37 point game from Jimmer, the Shanghai Sharks are now 6 and 0! How far can the sharks take it from here?  Stay tuned to find out.