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Wake Up Call: The Assassination of Jimmer Fredette by the Coward Rick Reilly

Mar 28, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT


Once upon a time, ESPN’s Rick Reilly was looking for a subject for his column, and thought it would be fun to rip Jimmer Fredette — the BYU guard who saw his season end recently in an NCAA Tourney loss to Florida. Excerpt:

If his last college game is what he’s bringing to the NBA, then I’d say, in five years, he’s got a really good chance to be your Provo area Isuzu dealer.

In a way, Reilly is the best person to write about this. Because if anyone is an expert on mailing in a performance, it’s Rick Reilly. His columns since arriving at ESPN make Fredette’s effort against Florida look like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. Another graph:

Note to Jimmer: To get the ball, one must occasionally check one’s man and/or box said man out. One did neither.

Here’s the deal: When you’re an influential national columnist and write a piece ripping a college kid, at least be accountable for it. But Reilly lives in a celebrity bubble where the common man isn’t allowed to approach the throne. There’s no comments section at the end of his columns (Bill Simmons is similarly protected by the ESPN mother ship), and so he can take his potshots with impunity. That just makes him look like a bully.

Oh, there’s a link to a form where you can write to “Reilly’s Mailbag,” and become possible fodder for a snarky end-of-the-year “look-at-the-weird-letters-I-get” column. But there’s no forum where readers can call Reilly on his incredible bull****. And I mean that last sentence literally, owing to one of his worst columns of all time: when he thought it would be cutting-edge journalism to go to Pamplona, Spain, and run with the bulls.

Hiding behind the skirts of a no-commenting policy is the worst form of sports writing cowardice, especially after one spends an entire column hammering a college kid for doing what he has essentially been coached to do. Do you think that Fredette would have played “worse defense than a dead man” if he played at Indiana under Bobby Knight, or at Duke or Florida State or North Carolina? At 22 years of age, the holes in his game are the fault of the adults in his life. Reilly should have been criticizing Dave Rose, but his keen journalistic instincts didn’t take him that far. Probably had an early tee time.

But Reilly will never hear that criticism, because if you write to him, he’ll never see the letter. And if by chance one of his assistants does deem to pass your email along (on a silver platter, accompanied by buttered toast and a rose in a tiny vase), he’ll look at it briefly, and like the Wizard of Oz will make you go out and find a witch’s broomstick before he’ll consider it further.

ESPN is missing the boat on this of course. A Rick Reilly comments section would be the most entertaining spot on the entire site, with the possible exception of a Simmons comments section. And it surely would be funnier than the typical Reilly column.


What you missed while invading the neighboring county over the weekend

  • “During a pregame captains meeting with officials, Rodriguez said one of the (Morris) brothers offered him some parting words: ‘The run ends here.’ ” #illadvisedcomments


Time for someone to take off their shirt to cause a diversion. No Mark, not you! (Sigh).

  1. dcsportsjunky - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    This is a great article, and I am happy that someone wrote it to call him out. The other game was probably the first game that Rick saw of Jimmer, and to rip him like that doesn’t make any sense.

    Take Jimmer for what he is, not what he will be in the Pros! Jimmer was a great college basketball player and no one can take that away from him, not even some BUM at ESPN!!!(mothership)

  2. bevanbruce - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Reilly did very poor research. One would think that if BYU had beaten Florida, and lost to Butler, or beaten Butler and lost to VCU, that the exact same article would have been written by Reilly. .

    Fact: No public article ever compared Jimmer to Maravich until Reilly wrote it.

    The comparison to Danny Ainge was porrly researched. Reilly said that Jimmer was awful in shooting 37% or 11 for 29. And compared it to Danny Ainge in a clutch layup against Notre Dame in 1981. My question to Reilly is this, how did BYU do in the next game? There must have been a next game right? I mean, BYU did not win the championship in 1981…

    So Reilly to save you some time, I looked it up. BYU lost in the next round to Virginia. And Ainge was 4-13 or 30%. Also, BYU was leading at halftime, so they relaly screwed up at the end. To be honest, BYU losing by 14 to a team that they should have beaten in 1981 is a much bigger dissapointment than BYU sans Davies losing in OT to top 8 ranked Florida, a team packed with stars.

    Jimmer was also playing hurt and the fact he lead the entire floor in scoring shows he is the POY and will be a great NBA star. Statsicians don’t keep track of all the good passes you make to players who suck at shooting the ball. But if they did, Jimmer would have had more of those than asists this season and at least 5 in the Florida game. In the NBA, when you make a great pass, the teammate almost always converts. Jimmer just needs to play with Pros so that he can get credit for his 10+ assists per game.

    • mikenike85 - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      Poor research indeed!

      Where does it say in the Honor Code that BYU students cannot drink caffeine?


  3. my1andonlycomment - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Thank You. At one time I thought highly of Mr. Reilly’s writing; but as his popularity grew, evidently, so did his hat size… and it has recently gotten so big that he can’t get enough oxygen to think clearly. Maybe he needs a bigger hat? Better yet, as you mentioned, he might come down off his high horse and converse with his audience to better understand how far he has removed himself from real people. Writers like Rick Reilly who have run out of good ideas generally seem to resort to cynicism and sarcasm to remain relevant; what a shame. If only he would read it, and understand that it is only a small sample he would have a change of heart; probably not. I’m afraid that what we are really seeing is the real Rick Reilly, stripped of the bounds that were in place before he realized he was better than his audience…

  4. chadwl5150 - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Here are my comments to the Reilly mailbag that he’ll never read:

    Did Rick Reilly earn his check with this sub par assessment of a game that I wonder if he even watched more than 2 min. of….No, No he didn’t!

    Rick, you know what was sad about that game, which I doubt you watched any of, is that while Fredette had an off night and while the rest of the team struggled to contribute, they still had the game to win! That is the sad thing. I don’t know how Florida can hold their head up this morning. I would hate for them to have to match up against any team in the NIT after seeing that pathetic performance of basketball in squeaking out a victory over a team that shot barely 35% while they shot nearly 50%.

    But go ahead and trash on the kid that will end up college basketball’s player of the year that has carried his team through thick and thin the entire season. That is pretty pathetic that you chose that angle for a story on a player that you apparently haven’t so much as watched anything but clips and highlights of till you have finally found him in a game he didn’t play well in so you could have something to rant on.

    And nice showing of research/journalism by the way, on pointing out the honor code that you couldn’t get right (no sex and no caffiene!) or intentionally got wrong to show you are a hater of those that stand for morals and principles. (Half the campus would be expelled if that were the case… as I sip on my Dew… and the other half are quite enjoying their sexual activity within the bonds of marriage!)

    Rick, try sticking with the reporting of something that you actually know about which apparently isn’t college basketball or recognizing great moral character.

  5. chadwl5150 - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    Thanks for creating the article and the comment page!

  6. rorypwjones - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Rick Reilly = Douchebag

  7. tyrantking - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    Bill Simmons = Douchebag

  8. uofaspanish - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    I read the article by Reilly shortly after it came out and was surprised when I couldn’t leave a comment. Now I know why. A day or two later Andy Katz wrote an article saying college basketball was better off this year because of Jimmer. Did anyone take the time to read the comment section for that article?–almost all of them were bashing Rick Reilly (at least when I read them). I felt bad that Andy Katz had written a good article, but from the comments, it didn’t look like many had taken the time to read it. Instead, everyone was looking for a chance to vent about Reilly’s pathetic article, and the comments section to Katz’s article was the first opportunity that people had to express that frustration. Kudos to Rick Chandler for giving voice to the thousands who felt Reilly crossed the line.

  9. wpcj - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    OK, so I read Mr. Reilly’s attack on Jimmer with complete disgust. What did you expect from such an idiot? He is almost always an idiot! The real question is why would ESPN allow such a writer on their staff? So, here is what I have done. I no longer list ESPN in my favorites because after reading this slanderous attack I decided that everything they report has to come under suspicion. I no longer trust any of the ESPN writers. And, others are right, Mr. Reilly does not even give equal opportunity to us to respond to his outrageous and mean spirited attacks. Nope, ESPN…you are outta there for me.

  10. roundr0ck - Mar 28, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    I have read Rick Reilly’s column for years and am often moved to tears with his ability to find moving sports-related stories about individuals who are more than just athletes. I love his work.

    After reading this article I wonder if Mr. Reilly really wrote it? It seems so out of character for him, especially when writing about someone who has such an incredible story. His last game was unfortunate but one game does not define an individual. I expect Jimmer to be a fine journeyman in the NBA who will bring intensity and scrappiness – who probably won’t last long or do well, but his story remains inspiring.

    Mr Reilly, you’ve stooped to what common sports columnists and talk show hosts do – you created controversy and a fervent discussion but you lowered your standards. I hope to see you return to your prior form – and be man enough to apologize to Jimmer for your lapse of judgement.

  11. therealdrudixon - Mar 29, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    I love a columnist who can take feedback, positive or negative. Reilly’s an uneducated tool who needs to be taken out back and slapped around a bit. Too big for his britches. I can’t wait to see Jimmer light it up in the pros. I hope he lands with a team that gives him minutes.

  12. denmlove - Mar 29, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    I’m not sure why Rick Reilly feels he is qualified to wirte an article like this. I’m no big BYU or Jimmer Fredette fan, but there is no denying the guy is fun to watch. There is also no denying that Fredette hit some huge shots in the 4th against Florida to keep his team in the game. My biggest problem with the article is not Reilly ripping on a college player, I don’t personally think that college athletes should be above criticism for poor play, but the fact that Reilly is attempting to analyze a sport on the level of X’s and O’s or talent level of the players. The guy writes puff pieces; everyone knows that. They can be funny, but often they are not. His TV monologues, during the Masters especially, are particularly painful to watch, but that’s beside the point. Throughout the years I’ve read his work at SI and ESPN, nothing has led me to believe that he had any insight into the actual playing of any of the sports he covers. He’s simply not capable of analyzing the game which is fine because it is not his job. His job is to find special interest stories that make people feel good. And for him to attempt to contradict Russell Westbrook on the technical details of the game of basketball is laughable and embarrassing to see. Reilly should stick to his job: writing feel good pieces peripherally associated with sports and leave the analysis of the game to the people who understand it.

  13. BC - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Reilly is a chipwich. He’s not funny and thinks he is. He’s not smart and thinks he is. Just go hide somewhere or get a job writing for the Billings Gazette and save us all some aggravation, Reilly.

  14. bevosbytes - Mar 30, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Rick Reilly makes a living writing ridiculous books about the size of John Daley’s penis or about counting the lesbians on the LPGA. He’s an idiot.