Did Jimmer Fredette get Jimmered? Perhaps he did, but in a classic example of “Welcome to the NBA, rookie!” the former BYU All-American didn’t get the call in the call in the final minutes of Saturday’s Jazz-Kings game.
The Jazz won the game 96-93 thanks in part to a late intentional foul on Sacramento’s Chuck Hayes. Utah’s Gordon Hayward made the ensuing free throw and by retaining possession of the ball, the Jazz were able to run out the clock for the win.
Seconds earlier, however, Fredette had a chance to give the Kings the lead on a late 3-point attempt, which he missed. Replays appeared to show he was fouled on the play but officials didn’t make the call.
For his part, Jimmer didn’t make a stink about the no call. Wisely, the rookie kept his mouth closed and in doing so kept the NBA out of his wallet.
“I caught it … shot it … possibly contact, maybe not,” Fredette said. “But the ball didn’t go in and that’s what happens. It was a tough loss for us.”
Fredette’s late shot had the sellout crowd at EnergySolutions Arena holding its breath. It seemed a large portion were BYU fans trying to walk the line between cheering for Jimmer and rooting for the hometown Jazz.
Some, however, were not so conflicted.
Early in the game Fredette was booed each time he touched the ball. It seemed likely the jeering was coming from University of Utah fans who’d seen Jimmer shred them with long-range jumpers in the past.
On the other hand, there was plenty of Jimmer love going around, too. Fans wearing Fredette BYU jerseys cheered him as often as possible and at times even appeared to support him more than the Jazz.
Late in the fourth quarter, the arena erupted with a “We want Jimmer!” chant and when Kings coach Keith Smart put him on the floor in the final minutes, the place once again erupted with cheers.
It certainly was an odd moment when Fredette launched that late 3-pointer. Many of the fans who’d been booing him earlier went quiet, no doubt fearful he was going to “Jimmer” the Jazz.
When he missed, they celebrated it with a sense of relief.
But there was also a portion of the crowd that seemed to be rooting for Fredette to make the shot. When he missed there was an audible groan.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Utah point guard Earl Watson said. “It was like college. I thought I had on a Utah Utes jersey. It was like Utes vs. BYU. I was back in college. I want a per diem check.”
Said Utah rookie Alec Burks: “I have never seen anything like that. That’s crazy the way he gets that recognition. I thought Jay-Z or someone had walked up, but it was just Jimmer.”
Before the game, Fredette said he expected to hear some cheers and some jeers. Afterward, he said he appreciated hearing the cheers.
“It was funny because normally I’m sure they’re not used to hearing cheers when someone from the other team scores,” he said. “It was great to hear, obviously great support here and I really appreciate all the fans who came out to support myself, but also the Kings. It was a great atmosphere tonight.”
Fredette said he expected he might take some ribbing from his teammates over all the Jimmer-maniacs in the crowd. Turns out they were proud of him.
“It was for Jimmer,” guard Tyreke Evans said. “We never had that issue before. (Utah) is like a second home. They paid to see him play so they wanted him out there. He did a great job. He’s getting better and better. I’m happy for him.”