You’re Playing With the Big Boys Now

Charles Bowker

The Atlanta Hawks Lamar Patterson, left, drives against the San Antonio Spurs Jimmer Fredette during the second half in a preseason game on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Hawks won, 100-86. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Growing up I played a lot of sports just to pass the time. That led to me having several different coaches with distinctly different philosophies on how a team should be run. I learned that even if I disagreed with some coaches, I still had to play the game the way they instructed me to.

I bring this story up because recently on the radio several sports analysts, with  a tendency to favor Brigham Young University, have scorned the NBA, saying that one-time basketball star Jimmer Fredette struggles in the big leagues because they don’t let him do his own thing. They won’t let him play his game.

Recent news from an anonymous former NBA assistant coach of Fredette tells a different story than the press.

“Jimmer thinks everybody is stupid,” the unnamed assistant told Yahoo! Sports in a statement. “He thinks everybody needs to come and just turn over their offense and let him shoot it anytime he wants. That’s not how the league works.”

The assistant continued his thoughts, saying that Fredette won’t adjust his game for any coach and that “He’ll tell you, ‘This is what I did at BYU.’” Due to the fact that the source of this quote is shady and unknown, take it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, this attitude is not uncommon from players out of the BYU athletic organization and unfortunately  it is a pandemic with lethal repercussions.

I don’t know how to tell you this, BYU fans, but Jimmer’s not in Provo anymore.

The truth is he cannot play the same game that he played at BYU for several reasons; the main reason being he has gone from playing for a free education to earning a paycheck. Like any job in the normal world, you have to perform to the standards that are required for that job. So, if you want to be a starter in the NBA—spoiler alert—you have to do what the coach tells you to do.

Fredette needs to learn to play NBA basketball, not the egocentric style of play he excelled at while in college. In four seasons, he has been bounced to three different teams with his last, the San Antonio Spurs, cutting him before the season began. In a very real sense, if the Spurs’ head coach Greg Popovich can’t make you a star, then no one can. Luckily, he was selected in the NBA Developmental League draft and will still play ball.

But the fact remains, if you want to be a star, then do what the coaches say and pay your dues. If Fredette can do that, then maybe we will see the player who scored an average of 28.9 points per game in college do the same in the NBA. Its a long shot, but entirely possible.

This thought, of course, goes out to all athletes no matter what the sport. Unless your name is Lebron James or Steph Curry, you really don’t make demands of your team. You follow the coach, and surprisingly, you will find he does know best. In the end, you have to be worth the money they pay you. It never works out the other way.