(I am having the sneaking suspicion I wrote something just like this before, but it just be a Paul McCartney-“Yesterday” deal. Then again, it may be self-plagiarism or plagiarism that isn’t even that innocent.)
I hate it when commentators, and it’s almost invariably restricted to sports, make comparisons between persons merely for their similarities in nothing more than height, weight, and race. For instance, I recently heard more than one so-called analyst compare Tyler Zeller to Bill Bradley re: his baby hook. Well, here’s a little agit for the never believer, genius squad. Magic Johnson was the king of the baby hook. And, as a devotee of Magic in my younger years, I can sure as hell tell you that Tyler’s version doesn’t resemble Dollar Bill’s full-out hook. It’s spot-on Magic. And Tyler is 3″ taller, weighs 15 pounds less than Earvin, and just like the rest of us from Washington [IN] (save 15-20 fine folks) who speak English as a first language, is not going to college on UNCF dollars.
I just provided you that one example to give you an idea of the kind of thing I’m talking about. It’s a rampant practice in broadcasts of all the major sports. It reeks of stale thinking, and it represents shoddy journalism.
The previous paragraphs’ premise established, it is with great torment that I present the undeniable analysis/player comparison of one Jimmer Fredette. As a late night poker player (most casinos show sports on the TV in poker rooms), I watched a disproportionately high number of BYU regular season games this past year, given they’re on in late time slots. And a theme kept repeating itself over and over: he’s Pete Maravich.
It rips me up in side to say so, and I’d like to believe in my heart of hearts that I’m not influenced by race here. I’m trying to find old tape of Mateen Cleaves to hopefully wash me of this. Hell, maybe I could even get halfway away from it with a Jason Kidd comparison.1 But, I can’t find it.
This kid has the game of Maravich. He can AND WILL shoot it from anywhere in the gym. He’s got a high assist rate. He plays with the same heart and same gusto. He controls a game’s tempo, for better or worse. He’s got intangibles that fail to show up on a stat sheet to indicate how he won OR lost a game for his team.
Additionally, given all of Maravich’s talent, I always felt there were significant gaps in his game. I feel the same about Jimmer. I start finding myself wanting to scream about fundamentals. I jump to mental rants about carelessness. And I start to begin to want to write everyone who voted this kid unanimous player of the year. But, I can’t. For all of the negative checks against him, I’m still inclined to agree.
In short, I can’t find a good reason to dislike him, or negate the argument. Jared Jeffries had about the shakiest game in the country in 2002, and I don’t know that there was anyone in the land I’d rather have had underneath for us, save Kirk Haston returning for his senior year. Larry Bird was a barely average defender. Kareem was slow moving up and down the court. You get the idea. The point is, I think our (my) expectations for what a player should be have been redefined by the unreal basketball talents that make the A-list ranks these days. And that’s just unreasonable.
So, congratulations Jimmer. You’ve earned it. Now, follow in the footsteps of Danny Ainge and have yourself a great NBA career.
1According to Wikipedia, which could not possibly ever be wrong, Jason Kidd’s mom is white and his late father was black. I’m sure to check such things after ESPN once famously reported Kelvin Sampson to be the second African-American coach in a row that IU had terminated. I was shocked to see that ESPN had chosen to take that tactic. Sampson was shocked to find out he was black. Like with Kidd, I didn’t know one way or another with Coach Assbag, and thought he just might be an ethnic model for the great nation of ours. Turns out he was of a race of people that have historically been screwed over in the US MORE than African-Americans. Talk about your missed opportunities, ESPN.