The First Shot: Jimmer and Isaiah Sweat It Out

Editor’s Note: For those of you who are frequent visitors, Rob McAllister is no stranger to Cowbell Kingdom.  We’ve highlighted and referenced his work in our arena project coverage.  As a reporter for KFBK Radio in Sacramento, he was the first to break news of the Kings near move to Anaheim last season, We’re excited to announce that Rob will be contributing features like the one you’re about to read throughout the 2011-12 Kings season.

Like your first kiss or the day you got your driver’s license, there is something memorable about the first shot you take in the NBA.

Just seconds before it happens, the adrenaline courses through your veins, your arm pits suddenly become a new water source for California farmers and it’s hard to remember your own name.

In an instant it all goes away. It is your lips touching another, the grip of the steering wheel without mom in the passenger seat and the sight of that Spalding brushing across the white yarn that hangs below an orange cylinder.

That rush seems to take a sedative, those beads of water return to their hiding place and all of the sudden you can even spell that title your parents bestowed upon you the day you were born.

For Jimmer Fredette, that first NBA basket came in a Sacramento Kings uniform, on a one-legged fadeaway from 15 feet with 1:36 left in the first quarter. The crowd’s roar sucked any silence that lingered.

“It was exciting, it went in,” proclaimed Fredette in the locker room after the Kings 100-91 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the team’s home opener last night at Power Balance Pavilion.

This typical Jimmer jumper was a stark difference from his first college attempt, “My first (shot) at B.Y.U. was an air ball, so this was much better.”

Even though these players have made thousands of shots in their career, the ball seems to be replaced by a boulder and the easiest of layups can have the difficulty of a full court shot that first time on the hardwood.

First-year man Isaiah Thomas had trouble with two three-footers before burying a three in the corner in front of former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

“Making that three and then going down and guarding Kobe Bryant was a dream come true,” said Thomas.

The trey was extra special for the University of Washington star, as Thomas’ father, James, is a diehard Lakers fan. “I am going to call him and make sure he has seen it.”

Veteran Chuck Hayes saw Fredette and Thomas’ shots, but does not remember his first as fondly. The Modesto native smirked and let out a jovial laugh when he thought about that game six years ago against the Dallas Mavericks. “My first shot got blocked by D.J. Mbenga. He sent it to the stands.”

The adrenaline will be easier to control now and that nervous sweat will be less frequent after their first made baskets.

Now that Fredette and Thomas can look at the box score and see that first-made field goal, their confidence is likely as high as those 16-year-old versions of themselves, who just passed their driver’s tests and headed out to pick up a date for the movies.

Highlights of last night’s win courtesy of Kings.com.

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