Sports

Buddy wins!

Needing to have a strong finish, including sinking his final “money ball”, Bahamian Chavano “Buddy” Hield of the Sacramento Kings proved why he is one of the better shooters in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and by extension, the entire world. Hield knocked down four out of five in his final rack, winning the 2020 Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest during the NBA’s All-Star Festivities at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday night.

Hield, the prolific scoring two-guard of the Kings, was in the zone on Saturday night, scoring 27 points in each of the two rounds, climaxed by a one-point victory over former champion Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns in the final. The duo were two of eight competitors vying for the three-point crown.

“I just came out here and represented The Bahamas as best as I can and

represented my family,” Hield told Marcellus Hall of Our News Sports in Chicago. “I thank God for giving me the win. I am just happy to be here and happy to show out. Like I said, we all know that I am a shooter from I was a little kid and this was on my bucket list and I was able to get it.”

The other competitors were Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Devonte’ Graham (Charlotte Hornets), Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat), Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls) and defending champion Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets).

Before Hield shot in the final round, Bertans tallied 22 points and Booker scored 26 points. Hield needed 27 to win and he got just that.

In the final round, the Bahamian missed his first two shots from the right corner rack but connected on the third shot and the final shot – the “money ball”. In the next rack, he hit all five shots to take his score to nine points. He missed the Mountain Dew ball that was worth three points between the right wing rack and the rack at top of the key.

The shooting guard then went on to nail four out of five shots – including the “money ball” from the top of the key, totaling 14 points. He had another Mountain Dew ball, the left-wing rack and the left corner rack that had his “money balls”, remaining to score 12 points to tie and 13 to win. Hield once again missed the Mountain Dew ball, but went to the “money ball” rack with a score of 19 points and 13.4 seconds left to shoot.

Donning his number 24 Sac Town City edition Kings jersey, the 27-year-old channeled his “Mamba Mentality” like his favorite basketball player, the late Kobe Bryant, on the final rack. Hield was wearing a pair of Bryant’s signature shoes, and even wears number 24 as his late idol did for the latter part of his career.

On his final rack, Hield made the first three “money balls” to put his score to 25 points. He then missed the fourth ball, but with 3.5 seconds remaining, and Booker looking on, Hield released his final ball and watched it hit nothing but the bottom of the net. An excited Hield jumped around the court in knowing he had just won the competition and scratched off an item on his bucket list.

In a post-contest interview, Hield – who was born and grew up on Grand Bahama, one of the two northern islands of The Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian last September – dedicated the win to the survivors and victims of Hurricane Dorian.

Sending congratulations to Hield on behalf of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people via a press release was Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

“Buddy Hield’s impressive career in the NBA is an inspiration to all Bahamians, especially the young men of this nation. His success is a testament that hard work and perseverance pays off,” the prime minister said. “Saturday’s dramatic performance is yet another example of his distinction in the sport of basketball.”

The release also stated that Minnis looks forward to congratulating Hield in person on his visit home.

In the first round, Hield was special with a score of 27 points.

The guard stepped up and quickly scored four points from the right corner. On the right wing he stepped up and knocked down three of the regular balls to take his score to seven, but then missed the “money ball” and the Mountain Dew ball.

From the top of the key he was near perfect as he made the first three shots, missed the fourth and then made the “money ball”, taking his score to 12 at the end of that rack.

He did the same thing on the left wing to finish that rack with a total score of 17 points.

With all of his “money balls” on the final rack, Hield was set for a big finish and he got just that. He hit five in a row on the final rack to tie Booker for the lead in the first round. Hield said he did his homework after last year’s competition.

“I am blessed. I did some homework. I was able to be more relaxed and be able to focus on knocking down shots. I was talking to myself and motivating myself through couple racks so that was fun,” Hield said.

In the competition last year, Hield totaled 26 points in the first round to advance to the finals. He was unable to get the win as he got off to a slow start and finished with 19 points in the final, settling for third.

On Saturday, February 8, Hield went 9-for-10 from the three-point line in a 31-point effort as his team won 122-102 over the San Antonio Spurs.

That effort made Hield the fastest player to 800 three-pointers in NBA history, surpassing former two-time league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Stephen Curry. Curry needed 305 games to reach 800 three-pointers, and Hield did it in 296 games, making him the only player in NBA history to hit that mark in less than 300 games.

There are 54 games in the books for Hield this season, and he has surpassed the 200-three pointer mark with 207.

He is averaging 3.8 threes per game and with 30 games remaining, he is on pace to total 321 made threes, easily topping his franchise record of 278 he did last season.

He is shooting 38.5 percent from three-point territory this season, down from his 42.7 percent shooting last season.

Going forward, he said this performance on Saturday night was special, but he is always confident in his ability.

“It can go either way and I think that the way I shoot the ball, I am always confident no matter what. I feel like I am the best shooter on the court regardless of how I am shooting the ball or what everybody is saying so my confidence is always high and nothing is going to bring me down,” Hield said.

He ended his interview saying: “242 to the world.”

Hield is averaging a team-high 20.4 points per contest this year. His team currently sits in the 13th position in the Western Conference of the NBA with a win-loss record of 21-33, seven games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies, the team they will play coming out of the all-star break on Thursday, February 20 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.

Bahamian DeAndre Ayton, the starting center of the Phoenix Suns, was scheduled to play in the NBA Rising Stars Game – USA vs. the World, on Friday night, but an ankle injury kept him out of action.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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