Well, it’s now apparent that Jimmer Fredette is who we thought he was. A hard-working and gifted shooter with inflated statistics created by playing in an offense created specifically for him against sub-standard competition, and a player who is way too small and slow to get off his shot in the NBA.
With only 8 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists per game, he did not make the All-Star team or the All-Rookie team or any of the various other honors the NBA dishes out, which has to be a shock given that he picked up virtually every honor out there in college. Jimmer couldn’t even crack the starting line-up of the lowly Sacramento Kings.
(I know, I know, Jimmeristas are saying: Wait until next year. Next year he will still be 6’2”.)
But don’t despair Jimmer, because we are putting you on an even more exclusive team. The All-Next-Larry-Bird-NOT! Team. You see, since Larry the Legend retired, a lot of fans, some Celtics and some not, have been absolutely desperate for the next coming of Bird. They want to see a player who will do what Bird did, in 13 seasons put up averages of 24 points per game, 10 rebounds and 6 assists, who will play every single play like his life depended on the outcome, and who will step up in the last minute of close games and jam an icicle dagger into the hopes of opposing teams.
Wait a minute! Doesn’t Boston have that player? In 13 years Paul Pierce has averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, not quite Birdian numbers, but then Bird played in a far more stat-friendly era before zone defenses were legal. (Remember, part of the time Bird was being guarded by ‘Nique, who couldn’t guard a piggy bank if you gave him a Glock and a bulletproof vest.) Like Bird, Pierce is a Boston lifer with multiple trips to The Finals. Like Bird, he is a ferocious competitor who can be trusted in the clutch. In the 2002 playoffs, he led his team back from a 21 point deficit by putting up 19 points in the fourth quarter. Like Bird, he asks to play the other team’s best player, and once hung 50 on LeBron. And like Bird, he’s insanely tough. One year he got stabbed breaking up a bar fight and almost died, and did not miss a single game. So there you are, folks, your next Larry Bird is already here, even plays on the same team and even has almost the same jersey number!
[Crickets chirping.] Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I get it. Paul Pierce is black, and part of the whole Next Larry Bird thing is he has to be white. OK, that’s cool. Sorry, what was I thinking?
Then how about Dirk Nowitzki? He’s got almost identical career stats: 23/8/3, has been an MVP and won an NBA championship. He’s a fabulous shooter, like Bird, and the undisputed leader of his team. Or Steve Nash. How about him? Bird was a nifty passer and Nash is a great passer. He’s clutch, too. What? Well, no, they’re not American, but they’re white.
OK. So they have to be white and American. Hmmm. Well, there’s Kevin Love, but his stats don’t quite measure up to Pierce, Nowitzki or Nash. (And anyway, he’s the next Wes Unseld. Go figure.) I guess maybe we will have to wait awhile.
In the meantime, Jimmer, enjoy your time with your fellow team members, all of whom were decreed at one time or another to be the next Larry Bird, and whose careers have ranged from solid (Christian Laettner, Keith Van Horn, Mike Dunleavy) to utterly forgettable (Adam Morrison, Danny Ferry, Andrew Gaze, Eric Montross). For awhile, ANLBN’s came from Duke. Now it seems they come from the Mountain West. First the South and now Mormon country. Not sure what to make of that.
Jimmer, I understand you didn’t ask to be on this team. None of the others did, either. But you did go with it when all those “experts” raved about how you would light up the NBA. You’re not stupid. You knew all along that you are seven inches shorter than Bird and more likely to be the second coming of Steve Alford than the next Hick from French Lick, but I never heard you say that in the interviews. You know that you profited from the fact that it’s politically incorrect for announcers to point out the athletic deficiencies of white basketball players, just as it is politically incorrect for announcers to report the fact that Vince Young is dumb as a yard of compost. (Or as dumb as Kerry Collins. Pick your analogy.)
At any rate, congratulations on your selection and please join us at the banquet in two weeks in Salt Lake City. The dinner topic will be “How to Turn Overrated into Overpaid,” and the keynote speaker will be Tim Tebow. Better make your reservations now, because it’s filling up fast.