One fan’s jerk is another fan’s treasure

One fan’s jerk is another fan’s treasure

Maybe I was a little too hard on Drew Timme last week when I said he was a jerk.

That is the PG version of what I called the Gonzaga star on Facebook hours before the Zags’ surprising blowout loss to Baylor in the NCAA championship game.

Here is what I posted:

“Drew Timme is the biggest (jerk) I have ever seen play basketball. And I have seen Bill Laimbeer, Christian Laettner and the Honorable Judge Brad Newman play basketball.”

Of course, you have to factor in recency bias into my statement. Many were claiming that Gonzaga’s win over UCLA in the semifinals was the greatest college basketball game of all time. Others said the tournament was the best ever.

Anybody who watched the Duke-Kentucky game of 1992 or the North Carolina State-Houston championship game of 1983 knows that is not in the case.

Likewise, anybody who really saw Laettner or Laimbeer play basketball knows that Timme is not the biggest jerk.

The game and Timme, though, belong in the conversation, with Timme a little farther down the list than the thrilling overtime classic.

Newman, well, he is not on that level. I added him mainly because I was trying to follow the comic’s rule of threes.

The retired District Court judge is a nice man and he was a very good judge. He was not the biggest jerk to play basketball in the Knights of Columbus League in Butte, but he was in the conversation.

Nobody liked Newman when you played against him. You liked him before and after the game, though.

In the KC League, the bigger the jerk you are, the more successful you are. At least that is the way it used to be. My anti-dog neighbor down the alley is a huge jerk. She would probably dominate in the KC League, where the rule is “no autopsy, no foul.”

The NCAA and NBA, however, are much harder to rule with attitude.

Every time Timme dunks the basketball, he strokes his mustache and raises his arms with No. 1 fingers on both hands. He even did it when his team was getting crushed by Baylor.

As I watched the semifinals and tried to be happy for my Gonzaga-fan friends, I could not help but want to reach into the television and throat punch the All-American every time he did it.

It was not until after the tournament ended that I learned that Timme was honoring WWE star Bobby Lashley with his move. Had I known that going in, I probably would not have been so bothered.

Sure, the WWE touch does not take away from the classlessness of the move. But it makes it funnier. It makes it more likeable.

Actually, the more I read and hear about Timme, the more I am starting to like the guy.

Most people who watch college basketball and do not cheer for Gonzaga, though, still very much despise the player who reinforces Gonzaga’s reputation of being the Duke of the West. Without the titles, of course.

That is to say Gonzaga has become the team that people like to cheer against, and Timme was the perfect villain to fan those flames.

Even us haters out there will admit that we would want Timme on our team. The same goes for Christian Laettner, who inspired the popular documentary titled “I Hate Christian Laettner.”

It does not go for Laimbeer.

By the way, I still hate Christian Laettner way too much to watch “I Hate Christian Laettner,” which I am told turns him into a likable character.

I will have to take their word for it.

Laimbeer, Laettner and Timme have a few things in common. Not only are they good basketball players, but they get under the skin of their opponents and their opposing fan bases.

One fan’s jerk is another fan’s treasure, so it should not be taken as an insult to be called a jerk. Actually, in the context of sports, it should be taken as a compliment.

Nobody would hate Timme if he was not a great player on a great team. And the fact that he is so very, very punchable on the court does not mean he is a bad guy off it.

I hear more and more that the opposite is true. His attitude on the court, as much as I hated it, also made the whole tournament more fun to watch.

The world of sports is full of jerks, and they make the games better. When our own teams are out of the running, it is always fun to cheer against the jerks we hate the most.

That is why the Cowboys games are the highest rated when that football team from Dallas can manage to be relevant.

That is why the Harrison’s boys’ basketball games drew the biggest crowds during district and divisional tournaments in Butte a decade or so ago. Fans from teams not playing in the game would stay to cheer against a certain Harrison player.

This player was one of the most skilled high school basketball players I have ever seen, but his attitude on the court drew more boos than a home plate umpire with a lazy eye. Way more often than not, those fans who stuck around to watch him lose went home disappointed.

The player was such a jerk — on the court, at least — that I could not help but like him.

When the player signed to play basketball at Montana Tech, I asked then coach Aaron Woliczko if that attitude was a drawback.

“Nah,” the coach said. “I like players with a streak of (jerk) in them. I know I had a streak of (jerk) in me.”

That Harrison player was the most disliked high school player I ever saw. That is, until he was replaced this year by a giant reserve player from Missoula Sentinel.

Not since the Hanson brothers put on the foil have I seen a more obvious goon in a sporting event. This guy picked up a foul and two warnings from the referees before he even played a second of actual game time in Butte this past season.

Fans booed and players shook their heads because they could not believe what they were seeing. The player fouled out of the game in about 2 minutes of game time.

But he also did his job. He took one for the team to get Butte’s big man in foul trouble, too.

Sentinel fans loved him, but opposing fans wanted to reach through their televisions to punch him.

The kid was such a jerk on the court that he made Drew Timme look like Sister Jean. He was so disliked that I could not help but like him.

If he ever decides to move to Butte, he will rule the KC League for decades to come.

He might even make a pretty good District Court judge.

— Bill Foley, who has been called a lot worse than a (jerk), writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74



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