More than 100 fans waited patiently to meet former BYU basketball star Jimmer Fredette during the grand opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Orem.
The weekend-long grand opening event for the new Dick’s store on University Parkway started with a mystery gift card giveaway Friday morning. The first 100 people in line received a gift card with values ranging from $5 to $500. A few people even stood in line since midnight waiting for the doors to open at 8 a.m.
With intense competition from Apple’s release of the iPhone 5 that same day, roughly 50 people were in line by the time the ribbon was cut and the gift cards handed out.
Joey Lai, a senior from Chengdu, Sichuan, China studying economics and actuary science really would have rather been in the iPhone line.
“This is not my first choice,” Lai said. “My first choice is Apple, but I went to the store and the line was too long.”
Dick’s was not everyone’s second choice and some were there for the chance to win $500 to the sporting goods store. Melody Twichel, a junior from Provo studying home and family living wanted to win the coveted $500 gift card for her husband’s Christmas gifts.
The largest crowd showed up on Saturday afternoon when Fredette was signing autographs. He was in town promoting “The Contract,” a biography of his life and journey to the NBA written by Pat Forde.
The line weaved throughout the store and was full of fans young and old with various paraphernalia to have signed by the Sacramento Kings player.
Russell Heaton, age 12, was the first to greet Fredette when he made his appearance at the back of the store. Wearing a BYU jersey with the number 32 on the back, Heaton rushed up to him and gave him a hug. Fredette reciprocated the act and signed the jersey.
Matt Harris, a freshman from Orem studying pre-med bought a piece of the Marriott Center student section benches that were torn out this past summer.
“I’ve been an avid BYU fan for years and was at the surplus sale and saw it on the wall. I wanted a chunk of BYU history,” Harris said. “The day I bought it I decided I was gonna have Jimmer sign it.”
“I’m very excited. Last year we were kind of thrown into the wolves. It was a shortened season and didn’t have too much training camp and there were a lot of things that went on during the season for us, but this year will be more normal,” Fredette said. “I had a good summer league and now I’m able to have a full training camp. I feel a lot more prepared going through a year and knowing what I have to work on and knowing the level you’re going against. I’m excited for this year and ready to get better.”
Despite some irregularities, Fredette’s first season was a realization of the dream he had held for years.
“The first game we played against the Lakers and I checked into the game and Kobe Bryant was guarding me first play,” Fredette said. “It was kind of like, ‘hey you’re in the NBA and playing against the best in the world’ so that was kind of a cool moment for me.”
His childhood dream has come true but Fredette is quickly realizing there is more to professional basketball than basketball. With things like endorsements and the signing that took place Saturday, being a professional basketball player is a business.
“The basketball is pretty much what you expected. The travel schedule is a lot different, but the stuff outside of basketball is what you don’t think about when you’re a young kid – the business part of it,” Fredette said. “So that is something that is different. When you dream about playing basketball you don’t dream about the business side of it as well.”
Fredette spent two hours signing autographs in the sporting goods store and meeting his fans.