Jimmer Fredette: Why Rick Reilly's Attack on the BYU Star Backfired

Scott LambsonContributor IIIMarch 29, 2011

In the wake of Rick Reilly's hit piece on BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette, there has been a rising wave of uproar gaining steam across the country.

I call it, "The Rick Reilly Effect."

From Dan Patrick, to the common fan, many have expressed shock and disappointment at Reilly's careless rant on all things Jimmer Fredette, BYU and the Mormons who flocked to New Orleans to simply enjoy a weekend at the Sweet 16.

If you missed my initial article in response to the now infamous Reilly rant, you can read it here, but the more I reflected on it, I felt I had to share a few more thoughts before I never read another Rick Reilly column ever again.

We all know by now the gist of Reilly's article. He battered Fredette's game, questioned whether Jimmer's religion was affecting his basketball performance and poked fun at watching the Mormon basketball fans in the Big Easy.

But after a few days of digesting all of that, I realized that none of the above was remotely close to the most vicious part of the article.

The truth is, the most vicious part of the article has garnered the least amount of attention, and maybe that is a good thing.

Maybe not.

After thinking about it the past few days, I felt I should shed some light on it, because after all, it was the most vicious part of the Reilly rant, and he should be called out on it.

What was it?

The Nick Martineau quote.

At the end of the Reilly rant, he chose to use a quote from BYU sophomore guard, Nick Martineau, a bench player that saw limited playing time all year.

Here was the quote:

"The weird thing is, [his defense] has gotten progressively worse over the year," says Fredette's own teammate, Nick Martineau. "From the start, he's never really been accountable to it, but it's just gotten looser as the year's gone on. But he can play defense. He really can. He'll definitely tighten it up for the NBA."

Why did Reilly use it? What a vicious thing to do.

It's one thing to express your own opinion on Fredette's basketball skills, however, it's another thing all together to bait a sophomore teammate of Fredette's into such a divisive comment and then use it to hide behind your argument.

What right did Reilly have to walk into the BYU locker room and attempt to divide it?

What right did he have to print such a divisive comment on the front page of the most popular sports Web site in the world?

What was the rationale behind hanging an obscure sophomore teammate of Jimmer's out to dry?

Wasn't it enough that BYU lost a heartbreaking overtime game to Florida? Did he have to kick them in the teeth while they tried to pick themselves up?

A college locker room is an amateur locker room, one of the last pure places in American sports. It doesn't need the Rick Reilly's of the world lurking in it, trying to pit teammate against teammate.

That's not even acceptable at the professional level.

The season was over, Jimmer's career was over, Martineau's was just beginning.

Maybe Martineau was misquoted, maybe he wasn't, but the fact that Reilly ran with it, is irresponsible.

Reilly knew darn well that the comment could be potentially destructive for the young player.

He didn't care.

Reilly only cared about his column.

He shows up to one BYU game at the Sweet 16, with his golden ESPN press pass, and his contribution as a national award winning columnist is to throw a sophomore bench player under the bus?


And shockingly, vicious.

There is no place in the college game for the likes of Reilly. ESPN should be ashamed. For five straight days that article has sat on their homepage.

What an embarrassment to college athletics.

College athletics deserves more than for ESPN to send Reilly to bait young amateur basketball players.

I'm sure Reilly will be at the Final Four, lurking around with his golden press pass, hoping to cause some sort of controversy, or maybe ruin the moment for a vulnerable wide-eyed kid at his first and only Final Four.

And while Reilly is partying in Houston, taking advantage of his golden press pass, and comment protected status on ESPN, somewhere in Provo, Utah, young Nick Martineau will be trying to explain himself.

Thanks for ruining college athletics Mr. Rick Reilly.

And while I'm at it, thank you, ESPN.


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