Sports fans love or hate columnist Rick Reilly, depending on the week or his topic.
Back in March, the Sports Illustrated wag said Jimmer Fredette would never survive in the NBA.
He vowed to pay $5,000 to the Cougar great's favorite charity if he started even five games during his rookie season.
Now even before the season begins, Reilly is chewing crow.
Fredette sparkled in the Sacramento Kings' two preseason games, and could likely start the first five games of the season.
Reilly already has written a check to the Fredette Family Foundation, which helps families in New York, Utah and Sacramento.
More NBA gifts
The NBA makes its annual Christmas Day appearance, this year as the season opener. With five games on tap, here are some updated by-the-numbers facts:
* Kobe Bryant will make his 14th appearance, passing Dolph Schayes, Earl Monroe and Shaquille O'Neal, who each played in 13 Christmas Day classics.
* The title of Santa's team goes to the N.Y. Knicks, playing for the 47th time, including the very first game in 1947.
* Also, Oscar Robertson has scored the most points through the years (377 points); the Portland Trail Blazers have the best winning percentage (82.3 percent); and this year's games will air in 215 countries and territories in 46 languages.
Pep rally plans
The University of Utah will stage its official pep rally next Friday in El Paso for fans attending the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
The pep rally will be held in downtown El Paso in the Judson Convention Center starting at 5 p.m. Admission is free and the festivities will include an appearance from the Ute football team and a performance by the band, cheerleaders and dance team and give-a-ways.
The Utes take on Georgia Tech on Dec. 31.
As Southern Utah University leaves the Great West Conference for the Big Sky, the Thunderbirds had a six-pack of their football players named to the All-Time GWC team.
The group includes former Weber High standout Tyler Osborne, the 2011 Great West defensive player of the year.
Named on offense are receiver Tysson Poots, running back Austin Minefee and WR/return specialist Nick Miller. Defensive honorees are Osborne, linebacker/safety Akeem Anifowoshe and cornerback Colin Pretlow.
Minefee and Osborne were members of this year's squad, while all but Miller -- now with the St. Louis Rams -- were on the 2010 team that went undefeated in conference play to claim SUU's only GWC title.
Utah Jazz players, coaches and trainers, joined the Nu Skin Jazz Dancers and Bear for their traditional holiday visit to Primary Children's Medical Center and Shriners Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City earlier this week. ...
Because one night of partying is not enough, the Mayhem at the Marriott MMA card, set for New Year's Eve, will actually start on Dec. 30 with a pre-party weigh-in at The Lighthouse Lounge/Sports Bar, 130 25th Street. Weigh-ins start at 6 p.m., with all the fighters set to attend. ...
The University of Utah women's soccer team has added Gabrielle Smart to its coaching staff. Known as Gabe, Smart has coached at the club, prep and college levels all over the state.
Chris J. Miller is sports editor for the Standard-Examiner. He can be reached at 801-625-4261 or email@example.com.