Bahamian Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield is from Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, but on this past Friday and Saturday, the Sacramento Kings guard was a part of NBA history as they faced off against the Indiana Pacers in the first-ever NBA game to take place in India.
The Pacers defeated the Kings in both games that were played in Mumbai, India. Those two games kick-started both teams’ preseason action.
The two games in India were special for Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive who is a native of India.
“This is a historic day, but for me, it’s a dream come true,” Ranadive said at a news conference before the game in Mumbai. “I left Bombay when I was 17 years old and literally I had $50 in my pocket, so to come back here with my NBA team and also bring my friend (Indiana owner) Herb Simon with his team and to play an actual NBA game is beyond my wildest, wildest imagination,” Ranadive said.
The game marked the first time a North American professional sports league has staged an event in India.
Hield went off in game one as he scored a team-high 28 points in an overtime game one 132-131 loss.
“We lost. We just have to keep getting better and growing as a team. My coach said we had a great first half and we started the second half sluggish and they jumped on us and we didn’t have momentum like they carried in the third and fourth quarter, but we have to do a better job guarding the ball,” Hield said.
He was 4-of-10 from beyond the arc in that game going 11-of-20 from the field. His new head coach Luke Walton, former assistant coach on the Golden State Warriors, has given him the “neon green” light to shoot. He did just that in 32 minutes. He also had four rebounds and one steal.
Hield got help from forward Harrison Barnes who scored 21 points.
The Pacers were led by T.J Warren with 30 points.
In attendance at the game was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum.
Tatum said, “It’s all opportunity that we see in terms of growing this game of basketball and growing the NBA on a global basis. The time is now to take advantage of these opportunities. We have people on the ground in these places who are very, very capable.”
In game two, the Pacers clobbered Hield and the Kings again. This time the score was 130-106.
The Grand Bahamian finished tied with a game-high 17 points as he played less minutes, 28. The shooting guard was 3-of-9 from the three-point territory. He was 6-of-13 from the field.
Alize Johnson scored 17 points in the win for the Pacers.
“It was a great experience that the kids will remember for the rest of their lives. Us coming down here playing basketball on the highest level in India and like coach said, it is big time. I enjoyed myself…The people in India are very welcoming and they treat you with a lot of respect so I am happy to be here,” Hield told reporters in India.
Buddy Hield will play Bahamian Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns in Sacramento on Thursday, October 10 at 7 p.m. in a preseason game.
The NBA has an NBA Academy and an NBA Basketball School — a tuition-based development program — in India already, with plans to add more. But bringing the actual game to India is certainly one of the biggest steps in growing the game in a country that’s on track to pass China as the most populous in the world within a decade.