My daughter who lives in Houston is astounded that her husband, approaching his 40s, is absolutely obsessed with Fredette. He is a die-hard Houston Rockets fan and Jazz hater. But Jimmer transcends it all. Even after 12-hour work days as a teacher and coach, Aaron Bales never fails to find a way to watch Fredette and the Kings — knowing beforehand that Fredette’s situation will be a "DNP" or minutes that are crumbs. He combs the Web for Fredette morsels. He follows him on Twitter and is as devoted to him as many of us are to Marvel and DC Comic heroes.
“Dad,” my daughter says, “I think he’s a Jimmer stalker.”
He is not alone. There are soldiers in the army that wait for Fredette to be free from the Kings and on to something else, whatever it may be. They are many and strong and faithful — even if reality may cheat them in the end.
His charity, the Fredette Family Foundation, is successfully battling bullying in elementary schools in Utah and New York City. On Friday, the Kings finished a video featuring Fredette and his anti-bullying effort. His charitable work with children from gyms and hospitals to schoolyards lifts spirits and strengthens bonds.
I asked J. Blair Giles, the CEO of the foundation, what makes Fredette tick since he sees it firsthand every week. It centers on unselfishness and recognizing how he fits in the world.
“Jimmer gets it, which is refreshing to see in the NBA,” said Blair. “It is a very 'me-centric' world, but Jimmer is doing things the right way. We get letters from fans. We read it in the media about him being a consummate professional. Jimmer is handling things with dignity and class amidst the challenges of professional sports. None of these stories are scripted.”
Who knows Fredette’s future or where and how his playing days will come.
But a case could be made: The NBA needs Jimmer Fredette.
The mania may never return, but the magic has not faded away.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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