It’s hard to picture anyone less likely to cause controversy, but there he is.
Jimmer Fredette is making headlines in connection with race and the NBA.
In a New York Post story under the headline “Is ‘white supremacy’ to blame for Jimmer Fredette mania?” a former Brooklyn Nets scout is quoted as saying race played a factor in Fredette’s popularity and being drafted No. 10.
Khalid Green, on the “Bill Rhoden On Sports” podcast said, “I never got caught up in that hype. Hype, he was slow, and they were pushing him too hard. I actually had a conversation. One of the scouts at the time was like, ‘Well, if he was a black guy you’d really like him.’ This was in a meeting and I was kind of new at the time, but I was like, ‘No, I wouldn’t have liked him because he can’t guard.’ He’s not going to be able to guard and he’s not going to be able to get his shot off, and he wasn’t athletic. And I knew what it was. I knew it was a Great White Hope-type of situation.
“That’s where the intrinsic bias comes in, because they a lot of times people want that guy to succeed to make a statement on behalf of the whole race.”
That’s the opposite view of some BYU fans I have heard from, who said Fredette washed out of the league because of race.
I’ve always contended there is too much at stake to draft a player based on race. Fredette made $8.6 million in the NBA. That’s not huge pro basketball money, but it’s not pocket change. Wins are too valuable to use a high draft pick strictly on anticipated fan appeal.
Race doesn’t pack arenas, winning does.
Green has a point regarding Fredette’s deficiencies. The former BYU star is a wonderfully entertaining player, but he had spent time under five NBA coaches that weren’t convinced of his potential. That’s not race or religion, it’s business. The Sacramento Kings were sold on his phenomenal college shooting, and drafted him. It didn’t work out. Countless players don’t live up to their hype.
Fredette was neither a “white hope” nor an underrated star. He’s a player whose skill set didn’t translate. Let’s leave it at that.