SACRAMENTO, Calif., — It didn't hit new Sacramento King Jimmer Fredette that he had fulfilled a lifetime dream when he shook hands with David Stern on Thursday shortly after the NBA commissioner announced he was the 10th pick in the league's draft.
Fredette, who wore a Milwaukee Bucks cap when he was introduced because that franchise had dealt the 10th pick to the Kings a few hours earlier, smiled for cameras and followed with numerous media interviews, discussing how his dreams had come true.
Nope, still hadn't hit him.
The realization finally smacked him like a screen set by new division rival Blake Griffin on Saturday. It occurred when team personnel showed him his new jersey a few minutes before Fredette had his introductory press conference in Sacramento.
"When I saw this jersey … you know that it's true and you're here in the NBA and you've accomplished your dreams," Fredette said of when it finally sunk in that he's now an NBA player. "And now it's time to not let it stop — go out and work as hard as you can and be a great player."
Fredette won't be wearing the familiar No. 32 he donned at BYU. He's wearing No. 7, which he explained carried no great significance. He said he has worn three other numbers as a basketball player and all were taken by current Kings. Former Louisville standout Francisco Garcia wears No. 32 for Sacramento.
"I get to start fresh," Fredette said. "It's kind of a cool number. I'm just starting new. I have a new identity coming into the NBA. There's no real significance behind it, really."
Fredette was introduced to the Sacramento media along with fellow Kings draft picks Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas. Fredette was the target of most of the media's questions, which was expected considering he's a lottery pick and has an enormous fan following.
Fredette said the right things, noting that how he's known as a basketball player isn't what's most important to him.
"Hopefully people see me as a great person, first of all," Fredette said. "That's what it's all about, going out and being able to help in the community and help people around you. That's going to carry far longer than basketball ever will."
Kings fans, among the most passionate in the NBA before the team and franchise hit the skids the last few seasons, will surely want to see not just a good guy. They'll want to see a player who produces.
"Hopefully they'll see me as a guy who wins a lot of games, does anything for his teammates, helps them be successful, and helps the team be successful," Fredette said. "Hopefully I've done a pretty good job of that so far, but now it's time to do it as a member of the Sacramento Kings."
With the Kings, Fredette joins a team that features several scorers. He'll be a part of a backcourt that can score in bunches. Marcus Thornton averaged 21.3 points and Tyreke Evans averaged 17.8 points per game last season. Big man DeMarcus Cousins averaged 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds as a rookie.
"I couldn't be more excited to get this thing started — a talented young group that really, really will score a lot of baskets," Fredette said. "It will be a very exciting team. I hope the fans are ready for a great season. We're looking forward to going out and being able to fill the arena and have some exciting basketball for you guys."
That's probably going to have to wait, as the NBA is likely headed for a lockout soon. Still, the Kings understand Fredette's fanbase, and the attention he'll bring.
"Certainly, it's a unique situation," Kings coach Paul Westphal said of Jimmermania on Saturday. "I've been in some situations where some of my players have had cult followings before. It's often part of the NBA. If it continues, it means you're really, really good. I know Jimmer has not been caught up in overvaluing that. You appreciate the fans and the adulation and it's something special. We want him to embrace that and the team to embrace that.
"But at the same time, it doesn't mean anything if you can't back it up. Your focus is the job and the circus is the circus. I know Jimmer is very good at separating that."
Westphal looks forward to Fredette bringing the Jimmermania circus to Sacramento.
"I take it as a big plus," he said. "We want people to watch us play and enjoy watching us and think it's a lot of fun. We look forward to it."
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