The Lonely Master: From March Madness to Shanghai, the unlikely journey of Jimmer Fredette

SHANGHAI — If Jimmer Fredette were to stand on the balcony of his 19th floor apartment in Shanghai, he’d see a sprawling metropolis that evokes Gotham City, an unending tableau of apartment buildings and office towers stretching to the horizon. If the skies were clear he might see the top of the world’s second-tallest building, a skyscraper over 2,000 feet tall.

Standing out there on the balcony, where he keeps his washing machine and dries his clothes, he might ruminate on how far he’s come — from tiny Glens Falls, New York, to College Player of the Year, to NBA lottery pick to now, the best basketball player in a country of 1.3 billion.

But Jimmer Fredette is not standing on his balcony, and he’s not one to ruminate. It’s Christmas Eve, and he’s sitting in the soft amber glow of a fake Christmas tree, building a Nativity scene out of Legos.

This is his second season with the Shanghai Sharks, and yet his apartment does not seem lived in. It feels empty, lonely, a place he just crashes, so devoid of personal effects he could probably pack up in an hour and you’d never know he was here.

The art on the wall is generic, provided, hardly worth noticing, and the furniture looks like he assembled it after a quick trip to Ikea. The only thing that doesn’t seem transitory is the massive white leather couch that takes up most of the living room. It is here that Jimmer spends most of his time when he’s not playing basketball, watching TV. He doesn’t know what else to do in China. Sometimes he gets on the subway and gets off at random stops, walks around, but that gets old. And so he sits in this apartment and binge watches Netflix.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Jimmer Fredette walks with his wife Whitney to the metro in Shanghai, China, on Jan. 20, 2018. Fredette is a former BYU Cougar and now plays for the Shanghai Sharks in the Chinese Basketball Association.

His daughter, Wesley, is almost a year old now. She was here in November, along with Whitney, Jimmer’s wife, a former BYU cheerleader. They’re back in Colorado, where Whitney grew up, away from the smog and the lonely apartment when Jimmer’s on the road. Wesley’s highchair is in the dining room, and her crib is still set up in the guest room, as if Whitney and Wesley might pop in unannounced. But they won’t, and Jimmer knows this. And yet, for some reason, he doesn’t fold up the highchair or the crib. Perhaps they are reminders of why he is here.

Sometimes he needs those reminders. Like when he’s in Shanxi, a gritty industrial city where the gray dust blows from the cement factories and the grime is so thick he could scribble his name on the windows of parked cars. Or when he was in Jilin, near the border of North Korea, and the bed looked so unkempt he didn’t even pull down …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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