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Why Are We So Obsessed With Jimmer Fredette?

Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars looks on with a bandage on his chin during the second half against the Florida Gators during the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 24, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah  – Jimmer Fredette is a big deal and not just in Utah where he played college basketball at BYU but seemingly everywhere. Why does everyone seem to care so much when there is only talk of Fredette returning to the NBA?

When it was reported he was going to sign with the Phoenix Suns it was not only news outlets in Phoenix and Utah that picked up on the return of Fredette to the NBA, but national news organizations covered his return and what it could mean for the former lottery pick.

Just type ‘Jimmer Fredette’ into Google and there will be articles from a number of websites that took time to write about his return to the NBA.  You’ll also find follow-ups about the fan reaction he received when returning to play the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

Oh, The Irony

Yes, the irony is quite clear that this piece is questioning the popularity of Fredette while writing about Fredette.

However, this phenomenon needs to be addressed because when is the last time a player whose NBA career stat line of six points, one rebound, 1.4 assists per game and a 40.9 percent field goal percentage was making national headlines? While also signing with one of the worst teams in the league?

It is safe to go out on a limb and say no one else gets that type of attention.

Another consideration is that Fredette has not been in the NBA for more than two years. He has been playing basketball an ocean away with the Shanghai Sharks in the Chinese Basketball Association. He has been away for multiple years but somehow still demands so much media attention.

Utah’s Reaction

Even getting a great reception in Salt Lake City against the Jazz seems a bit odd since there are plenty of other former college stars that have gone on to have much better NBA careers from Utah and have not received anything close to the type of cheers that Fredette received.

Former University of Utah guard Andre Miller was a lottery pick and helped lead the Utes to the national title game, Ute forward Keith Van Horn was a No. 2 overall pick and helped Utah make deep tournament runs, and not even Utah big Andrew Bogut who was the No. 1 overall pick from the 2005 NBA Draft has earned anywhere near the reaction from locals as Fredette.

When Freddette came into the game against the Jazz he was greeted with the loudest cheers of the night, but proceeded to go 1 of 10 from the field with six points.

Jimmer enters the game at Vivint Smart Home Arena to cheers and a bit of a standing ovation. #JimmerTime

Posted by KSL Sports on Monday, March 25, 2019

KSL-TV’s Jeremiah Jensen is as confused as anyone about why Fredette has this massive following.

“Jimmer-mania is just a strange phenomenon and it still exists eight years later even though he has been out of the league. There are two polar opposites here and as a member of the media, I have dealt with it since it happened,” Jensen said on Tuesday’s night on KSL’s Unrivaled. “There is this extreme side of BYU fans that think that Jimmer will score 40 a night and should be doing it in the NBA.”

“Jimmer-mania is just a strange phenomenon.”

Jensen goes onto say that those blue-colored Cougar fans use the excuse that the NBA is just against Fredette for some reason or another.

“‘All of these teams conspired against him and [Fredette] is actually one of the best players in the world but they won’t let him be that. Someone just needs to give him a chance,'” said Jensen. “[Those BYU fans say] ‘why doesn’t someone roll the ball out there and give him a chance and let him score 40 a night? These guys don’t know what they are doing. Gregg Popovich doesn’t know what he is doing.’ That is not correct.”

Jazz Players Want Nothing To Do With Jimmer-mania

Even Jazz players are not a fan of the media asking questions about someone who scored only six points.

Just listen to Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles answer questions about Fredette despite a dominant 125-92 win to help keep pace for home court in the West.

Mitchell was diplomatic talking about Fredette’s college career, Gobert was just confused with the loud cheers and Ingles was frustrated and walked away.

Utah Jazz players do not like taking questions regarding Jimmer Fredette

Utah Jazz players do not like taking questions regarding Jimmer Fredette

Posted by KSL's Unrivaled on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Fredette Also Has Haters

There is no denying that Fredette had a one of a kind college basketball career, but there are some who think that Fredette’s college success was just made up by the media.

“Then there is this other extreme [of BYU fans] where they believe Jimmer was a media creation and there is this revisionist history that his college career never happened and was a fraud. It was made up by ESPN and made up by local media and he was not the player that anyone claimed he was. That is not true either,” said Jensen.

“I witnessed it and watched it with my own eyes, it was unbelievable. There’s a middle ground here but these are extremes, appreciate him for what he is and let him be. I think Jimmer just wants to go out there and play ball and get a shot to play in the league.”

There is no argument how great his college career was, but there is no true evidence that after six years and multiple teams that no NBA coach or system can figure out how to make Fredette a superstar.

There has to be a middle ground as Jensen said. Fredette is just trying to make it on an NBA team to achieve his goal.

The former 2011 Naismith player of the year is a polarizing figure and still draws respect nationwide for what he did with the Cougars. That recognition is well deserved and his impact on the Cougars should not be forgotten.

The Answer

The ultimate question is why does almost everyone fawn over Jimmer Fredette?

The answer is not simple but it seems to be a combination of living in the past with his success at BYU, hoping the team that signs him next is the right team and there are people love to hate him regardless and want to see him fail.

Add all that together and there will always be coverage on Fredette when he returns to the NBA.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast.

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