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Jimmer Fredette: ‘I want another NBA chance; this time, I’ll succeed’. He also talks about @kobebryant @StarburyMarbury. Stephon Marbury: Good luck.
With all the success you’ve had in the Chinese Basketball Association, I’m very curious where your interest stands in potentially getting back to play in the NBA? Jimmer Fredette: I want to have another opportunity in the NBA because there is some unfinished business for me there. After this season is over, I want another NBA chance. This time, I’ll succeed. I feel really good about how I am playing. I know that if I get a chance, I will take advantage of it and be successful and help a team win. I’m excited to see what the future holds. I’m going to finish my contract in China this season and be the best I can be for my team. But after that, I will see what is out there and try to be on a roster for the NBA postseason.
What would you tell a head coach or an executive about why this time will be different? JF: I can be a great teammate, bringing it every single night. I know what it takes to win and I’ve helped lead teams to winning cultures. I want to be a part of a winning culture. I’m going to help the young guys get better. I can be a great fit on the locker room and on the floor at a high level. There are certain times when I was younger, I was occasionally more passive. This time, when I get that chance, if I get it, they’ll know that I will do whatever I can to help my team win. I’m going to be more aggressive each and every night. I want to have that mindset whenever I play and help the team the most with my skill set, which is as a scorer.
Has there been a significant change to the style of your game since you left the NBA? JF: I’ve worked extremely hard to get a lot better off the ball. Being able to catch the ball and shoot, I’ve also worked on my release to make it as quick as possible. As soon as I catch the ball, it’s going up. I’ve improved my footwork, a lot of it is doing the work before you catch the ball. I sprint to get off screens so my defender can’t catch me, which makes me so much better at shooting off the different types of screens. I didn’t have any of that in my game when I was coming out of college because I was ball dominant. I just had the ball in my hands all of the time in college and in high school. I knew I needed to work on that aspect of my game to reach the goals I’ve had as a pro. I’ve been working on my effectiveness and efficiency and it’s really paid off this season.
What was the worldwide reaction like after the game, both personally and online? I’m sure a ton of people reached out. JF: My social media definitely exploded after that game both in the United States and in China. I posted it on my Instagram and it got thousands of comments. It was really cool. Lots of people from back home messaged me. We have an app called Weibo here and Kobe Bryant posted about me on there. He said I had an amazing game and said that I can do anything I want to do if I put my mind to it. He added the Mamba Mentality hashtag, of course. Kobe has a lot of fans here, so it was great to have his support.
Speaking to your competitive nature, can you clarify what happened between you and Stephon Marbury last season? JF: Yeah, for sure. He came in and it was a tight game. I went in for the layup and he swiped at me pretty hard, closed fisted. I got upset and then I pushed him. We got in each other’s face and it was something that I felt was dirty and I needed him to know that I wasn’t going to allow it. I’m a tough guy and I am feisty and I want to compete. You can’t push me around. I may not look it because I’m pretty stoic and I don’t show a lot of emotion on the court. But if someone is going to try to bully me, I am definitely not going to let it happen. People were surprised that I lost my cool. They don’t expect that out of me. I’m not a young guy, though. I’m a grown man. I don’t care who you are. I’m going to compete as hard as I can against you. We’re good now, though. We spoke after the game. He’s a legend over here. I watched him play when I was growing up because I’m from New York and he played for the Knicks.
What kind of marketing deals have you had while living and playing in China? JF: I’m with a company called 361 and this is my third year. They’ve created a signature shoe for me every year. Every time they put my shoe out with the Chinese characters that say “Jimo Dashen” they sell out every time. That’s my nickname out here and it means the lonely master. “Jimo” means lonely and it sounds like Jimmer. My teammates told me that it’s a good meaning, like you’re alone at the top of the mountain and no one can reach your level. Like, you’re the best basketball player and it’s a compliment.
Jack Cooley believes Jimmer Fredette belongs in the NBA. “There’s no way there’s 300 people better than him in basketball. No way,” Cooley said. “I absolutely think he should be in the NBA. … I don’t think there’s a team that has 15 guys better than him. I don’t see it.”
Jimmer Fredette, the former BYU star and first-round pick, will compete in this year edition’s of The Basketball Tournament, a $2 million winner-take-all affair that will air on ESPN, with one goal in mind — earn another spot in the NBA. “I would always love to get another chance in the NBA,” Fredette told ESPN.com. “I’ve gotten better in China and improved every year. … You hope somebody takes notice.”
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August 14, 2022 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
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