Jimmer Fever (Revisited)

The good old days

(Editor’s note: The following blog post was written by Bryson Kearl exactly a year ago today as Jimmermania was at full tilt at BYU and across the nation. As Jimmer prepares to return to Utah to play the Jazz tomorrow, we thought we’d revisit a time when anything seemed possible for Mr. Fredette.)

I know exactly what I would say to Michael Jordan if I ever met him. Word for word. I spent my entire childhood daydreaming that I would somehow meet him. I’ve played the scenario over and over in my head. And there’s really only one thing I could say to him.

Michael Jordan was my childhood hero. If you knew me as a kid you just read that line and said something like, “Well, duh.” You probably then had some memory of me running around with a dirty Michael Jordan t-shirt dribbling a ball and awkwardly sticking my tongue out. He wasn’t just my hero: He was my idol. Literally. When the prophets of the Bible condemned idolatry, they were thinking of people like the nine year old Bryson Kearl.

While the years have passed, and I’ve come to see Jordan for what he really is—a truly gifted athlete with a competitiveness unsurpassed in almost any other arena of life, but nonetheless a very flawed man—my love for him has waned. And I’m okay with that.

I am still to this day in awe of the memories I have of watching Michael Jordan play basketball. Nobody in my life has ever come close to being as dynamic on the court as Michael was in his prime. When he played, my eyes were magnets, uncontrollably connected to my parent’s television set. He seemingly never let me down. The greater the moment, the greater he played. The limits by which the other nine men on the court were bound held no sway to the greatness that was Michael Jordan. And no other reality could have been believed by the childhood version of me.

His lasting impact on my life was his ability to send my never-slowing imagination into spin cycle. If I watched a Bulls game that ended in the early afternoon, you could say goodbye to the rest of my day. I was in a place that only me and my imaginary friend Michael could go. Whether I was throwing rolled up socks into a laundry basket as Patrick Ewing tried to block my shot or spinning around Joe Dumars to sink the game winner at the school hoops across from my house, I was gone. Hour after hour, shooting hoops, imagining wildly, and loving every minute of it.

But all that ended. A young boy’s imagination is always dampened by the cold wet realities of life. Michael eventually retired (for real), he eventually exposed himself in unflattering ways, and I eventually had to grow up. Again, I’m okay with that. There is order in this world, and its designs have served me well. I now have a beautiful wife and daughter, and we have a baby boy on the way. I have a good job. I have enjoyable hobbies. Life is good, albeit less imaginative.

Enter Jimmer Fredette.

What Jimmer has done on the basketball court in recent weeks justifies the ridiculous quantity of accolades going his way right now. So much has been written about Jimmer in both local and national media of late that I can’t pretend to add anything to the archives. But what he has done to me—and most notably to my imagination—has earned my unwavering respect.

These past few weeks, as “Jimmer Fever” has reached Beatlemania-like levels here in Utah, I’ve been living in some sort of weird time warp. As I’ve watched BYU’s every game, I’ve found myself holding tightly to my couch armrest. Waiting for the next goose bump moment, trying to hold my excitement in check so as not to scare my daughter. Openly dancing in my living room without conscious thought. I’ve even caught myself daydreaming wildly as I did many years before.

During last night’s BYU-SDSU game, I had a thought that—upon realizing the thought—made me openly laugh out loud at myself. Thoughts are never accurately portrayed in words, but here’s my attempt to dictate what I thought: “When I make it to the NBA, I want to pattern my game after Jimmer’s.”

It was a delusional thought, I know. But when the thought set in and I started laughing, it was the kind of laugh that left me wanting more. I was loving the moment, and I was in awe at what Jimmer had done to me. He had brought me back to a time when nothing was impossible, and even a rolled up sock and a laundry basket could keep me happy for hours at a time. And my imagination was sent, once again, into spin cycle.

As the game ended and I saw the BYU fans descend upon Jimmer as if he were John Lennon and the year was 1964, I laughed at them. But then I realized that if a younger version of me were there, I’d be doing the exact same thing. And then I thought, “What would I say to Jimmer if I actually met him?” Immediately, I knew the answer to my question.

I’d say the exact same thing I would say to Michael Jordan. I’d walk up to him, go to shake his hand, and simply say, “Thank you.” What more could I say?

Posted in College Basketball, NBA | 2 Comments

BCS According to Canadian School Children

(Editor’s note: The following is a discussion overheard between a fourth grade teacher in Canada and his class discussing the BCS. The teacher recently moved from the U.S. and made reference to the upcoming BCS Championship game.)

Shiloh, Age 10: What is the BCS Championship?

Mr. Hellert, Age 31 (MH): It is the bowl game system used to decide which two football teams play for the national championship in America.

Michael, Age 9: Why do only two teams get to try?

MH: Well, because that’s how it is done. It’s kind of a tradition to do just one bowl game.

Baxter, Age 9: Tradition, like dying Easter eggs?

MH: Sure.

Shiloh (directed at Baxter): That’s a stupid tradition.

Baxter: You’re a stupid tradition.

MH: Boys, please.

Shawn, Age 10: How do they pick the two teams?

MH: They use a mathematical formula which takes into account multiple polls and computer formulas to create a BCS ranking. Whoever finishes in the top two is in.

(Long silence)

Annie, Age 9: And are those two teams good?

MH: They’re supposed to be the best.

Shiloh, Age 10: Are they the best?

MH: Sometimes. Some people say they aren’t.

Shawn: And if you’re number three, you can’t play?

MH: You can play, just not for the championship. You can play in another bowl game.

Shawn, Age 10: Why play if you can’t win the championship?

MH: It’s tradition.

Shiloh: That’s a stupid tradition.

Baxter: Like trick or treating?

Annie: You’re not funny, Baxter.

Baxter: And you’re not cute.

MH: Baxter, that’s enough.

Shawn: When I played in a soccer tournament last summer, we were given a seed. Do you know what a seed is?

MH: Yes.

Shawn: We were the three seed. And we won the whole tournament. In the championship we beat the five seed.

MH: In the BCS, you wouldn’t have been able to do that.

Baxter: That’s not fair.

Shawn: Is everything in America that stupid?

MH: Only the BCS uses that system.

Annie: Who is playing in the BSC this year?

MH: Alabama and LSU.

Shiloh: What is LSU?

MH: Louisiana State University.

Hunter, Age 10: Louisiana is close to Alabama.

Annie: Who is better?

MH: Well, LSU beat Alabama earlier this year, so probably them.

Baxter: They already played this year?

MH: Yep.

Annie: Does everyone play everyone during the season?

MH: No, no. There are over a hundred teams. Each team plays 12 games, sometimes 13.

Annie: The whole country does that?

MH: Yes.

Annie: And those two teams are playing again?

MH: Yep.

Shawn: America is so stupid. Did you know they use British judges do decide who in America has talent?

Shiloh, Age 10: Why are they playing again?

MH: Because they finished one and two in the BCS standings.

Annie, Age 9: But they already played each other? Has the number three team played LSU?

MH: No.

Hunter: America is so stupid.

(Shouts of agreement throughout the class)

Marcus, Age 9: My dad likes Alabama, and I’m happy they get to play again.

Shiloh, Age 10: Well, your dad is an idiot.

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Jimmer’s First NBA Game (Preseason edition)

(Editor’s note: The following is an email sent by our art director and NBA enthusiast Tommy Currit.)

I watched the Kings/Warriors game on Saturday. Jimmer went from hesitant at first, to calling for the ball, to finally getting the ball. It was interesting to see how stupidly selfish and just plain stupid Tyreke Evans looked for much of the game. I thought, for a preseason game, Jimmer’s frustration with him was pretty apparent. Scene: Tyreke dribbles up the court to a wing, gets double teamed, and Jimmer is at the top wide open calling for the ball. Tyreke dribbles a bit then launches a horrible off balance long 2 pointer that clangs off the rim, while Jimmer is still clapping his hands for the ball, shaking his head in disbelief. That team is going to be VERY interesting to say the least. BTW, Cousins didn’t even play …

Jimmer’s D looked awful still. Got called for an illegal defense, even I was yelling at the screen, “Jimmer, YOUR ILLEGAL! MOVE!” He cheats to help down low a lot, looking to strip the bigs. He was only on Stephen Curry for a bit, and matched up better with bigger guards, actually, especially when they tried to post him up. He’s strong, and was able to push them out of position when they tried to bump him for better inside position. He is a better post defender then perimeter. Might actually work with that squad because Evan’s perimeter D looked great when he wanted to try.

Takeaway: Jimmer can play ball in the NBA. That was apparent.


Tommy Currit is an Art Director and BYU alum. If Tommy was an NBA player, he would be a mix between Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, and JJ Barea.

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The Perfect NBA Storm Is Coming

"I'm going to self-combust in one second."

The Van Gundy is back! It’s been awhile, but since the NBA lockout is officially over, we decided to end our lockout as well. What’s that? Nobody cares? Wrong, NBA Cares.

Much has happened in the sporting world since our last post. Aaron Rodgers took over the world, Tim Tebow took over America, and Joe Paterno took over his living room. But let’s be honest, our site name is The Van Gundy. We don’t have time to talk about any of that right now. We want to talk about the return of the gorgeous, yet far too often sleazy, temptress that is the NBA.

Much will be said on these annals in the weeks and months to come, but for now, here are the five things on our editor Bryson’s mind as we charge towards Christmas:

1)      What is going on?! The NBA is back, and at the same time it appears to be blowing itself up. The league supposedly locked out the players to show them who the real boss is, and yet the first few days of free agency have been monopolized by big stars dictating where they want to go. David Stern is turning into some weird hybrid of Brett Favre and Richard Nixon. Players seem on the verge of reenacting the Malice in the Palace on their owners. Brandon Roy is retiring. Half ofDenver’s roster is stuck in China. Ricky Rubio. Blake Griffin. Derrick Rose. The Kardashians. Frankly, there are more storylines worth exploring as we approach the season than there are games. And yet somehow the league’s blocking of the deal sending Chris Paul to LA (which most everyone agrees was a fair trade) has claimed the headlines. Again, WHAT IS GOING ON?!

This email from my buddy Tommy sums up what Stern has done to his legacy and to the league this week: “The past 24 hours has made the NBA look like a bigger joke then the whole 6 months of the lockout. I can’t even describe how ridiculous it seems to me. I have no words. This is unbelievable. I think last year may have been the end of the NBA as we know it. Stern needs to get his [stuff] together if he wants any hope of salvaging this mess.”

2)      Remember the playoffs from last year? You know, one of the top ten greatest playoffs of all time? In all of the hullabaloo going on right now, people forget why people were so excited about the NBA to come back. The last two teams standing in the summer were the Heat and the Mavs. The Heat appear to be reloading. Shane Battier signing with Miami may have sealed the deal for me. I don’t see how they would have lost last year if they had Battier on that team. And with one year under their belt, and with LeBron realizing he sucks as the villain, I think the Finals is the Heat’s to lose. The Mavs however appear to be heading in the wrong direction (for now). Tyson Chandler seems all but gone, and if he is (and assuming they get no worthwhile additions), I don’t see how the Mavs can repeat. Of course, Dirk Nowitzki has now tasted the ultimate glory. Is he content with just one title? I’m not about to limit the man who went from the best European basketball player to perhaps the greatest PF of all time in a month span last year. Are you?

3)     Of course the problem facing the Mavs and other older teams is two pronged. On one side, we are looking at a grueling lockout compressed season. On the other, there are a lot of young teams ready to break through. The Thunder and (gulp) Grizzlies still have progress to make in the West, and if they make the improvements needed, the Mavs, Lakers, and Spurs don’t have room to slip. Things don’t look good for the older teams.

And Kevin Durant does appear ready to take the mantle. I would argue he is already the most liked player in the league right now. He has the talent, the passion, and the right situation (assuming Westbrook doesn’t go all Kobe on him) to win it all this year. If you thought NBA fans got behind Dirk Nowitzki last year when he took on the new Evil Empire in South Beach, can you imagine the type of support KD would garner? Plus, Oklahoma City is an actual underdog town, an actual small market team. Could there be any more fitting matchup to represent the struggle between big market, NBA players’ ego, and small market team basketball? Maybe, but not one that has a realistic chance. By the way, yes I think we’ll see a Thunder-Heat matchup in the Finals.

In the East the Bulls are one good signing (or trade away) from being a threat to the Heat. Beyond that, I really don’t see anyone in the East having a chance against the Heat. Who, the Celtics? They’re done barring some sort of miracle (and/or shady trade).

4) Jimmer. As a BYU alum, and lifelong NBA lover, I really couldn’t be any more excited about Jimmer Fredette’s career (well, unless he played with the Jazz). All the talk about what he’ll be (or won’t be) in the NBA is about to come to an end. Is he the next JJ Redick? Is he the next Adam Morrison? Stephen Curry? We’re about to find out. For the record, I think he’ll be a cross between Drazen Petrovic, Dan Majerle, and Chauncey Billups.

5) There will literally be so many things going on with basketball this season that I will either have to force myself to ration my consumption, or I will lose my wife and/or job. People can talk all they want about the league being in trouble and the lockout being a disaster (both are true), but the simple fact that there is so much to talk about right now and in the months to come, I can’t think of a better time to be an NBA fan. It’s a mess, sure, but who says messes are all that bad. We’re a nation that loves sports, scandal, celebrities, and drama. The NBA right now is a perfect storm of all those things, and it’s about to come our way. Go grab your raincoat.

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Moneyball Review

A few months ago I posted on Why I Was Nervous to See Moneyball. Last week, I saw it.


Plot: A

Baseball Scenes: C — these weren’t anything to write home about, though the implementation of actual footage from the old games was well done.

Brad Pitt: A

Whoever the actor playing David Justice was: D — looked a few years too young, like he was “I-can-pull-Halle-Berry David Justice”

Jonah Hill: A +

Overall thoughts:

This was a strange movie for me to watch because I knew exactly how that A’s season turned out, but I had forgotten some of the details, such as the existence of Carlos Pena. However, I was exceptionally pleased to see Jeremy Giambi portrayed as a villain, as I have never forgiven him for not sliding on that Jeter play:

I was disappointed that while the writers were throwing Giambi under the bus, they didn’t find a way to trash Terrence Long, who is easily my least favorite A of all-time. Apparently, he didn’t fit into the Moneyball mystique. I can’t think of a single positive Terrence Long memory… I only remember things like this: Terrence Long Gunned Down

Overall, I think the film does sabermetrics justice. They were able to capture and explain its value while also putting a face (the young Billy Beane struggling as a prospect) to the problems with traditional scouting. They succeed in humanizing statistics.

The best compliment this movie can get is not that baseball fans should see it. It is that everbody should see it. And they should.


James Littlejohn is sick of writing clever bios for himself. http://twitter.com/#!/jimlilj

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Playoffs, Anyone?

(Editor's note: We're about halfway through the college football regular season, but there's a very good chance your team doesn't have a chance at winning a national championship, even if they are undefeated. Playoffs, anyone?)

Sam Pugh loves College Football and drawing. This picture is proof of that.
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ESPN Presents: The Lockout

(Editor's note: Just one year after Lebron James amazed the world with his arrogance, poor decision making, and apparent inability to understand the everyday fan, David Stern is attempting to one up "The King.")



Sam Pugh is an artist who enjoys creating storyboards, ultimate frisbee, and corduroy pants. This is his first of (hopefully) many comics with The Van Gundy.

Posted in NBA, Uncategorized | Leave a comment