Monday, January 30, 2017

Jimo

Jimmer Fredette is a sensation again. He hadn’t expected this to happen, certainly not in Shanghai, where he signed to play for one of the Chinese Basketball Association’s worst teams. But then came the 40-point nights, Shanghai’s unexpected rise from the bottom to the top and another group of fans halfway around the world was chanting his name.

“Jimo. Jimo. Jimo.”

There is no Chinese way to say “Jimmer,” his translator told him. They are using the word that sounds closest.

It means “lonely,” the translator added.

At first, Fredette was disappointed.

“I thought, ‘Lonely? That’s kind of depressing,’ ” he told The Vertical.

But the translator went on to explain that the conversion from Mandarin to English is not perfect, that the fans were not chanting “lonely” but rather something like “loneliness master” or “loneliness god.” They were saying he stood at such a high level, alone at the top, that he had no enemies. He was, in a sense, the very best.

It shouldn’t be a shock that he has become a sensation in Shanghai, averaging a league-leading 37 points per game. His story in America was always larger-than-life. Why wouldn’t it be the same in China? While he is hardly the first NBA player to go there and score lots of points, he is one of the few who has made a difference in his city. He has done more than make baskets. He has helped turn one of the CBA’s worst teams into the best. And many must have wondered if that were possible.

The Shanghai Sharks have not been good for a long time, making the playoffs just three times since winning the league in 2002. Last season, they finished in a three-way tie for 10th in a 20-team league. Financial problems almost drove them out of business in 2009, surviving only when Yao Ming stepped in to run the franchise. That the Sharks are now 25-6 and tied for first with only a handful of games left in the regular season is something of a miracle. A big reason for that turnaround is Fredette.

*** [3/16/17 posted]

Jimmer named MVP in China / what now?

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