Buddy Hield's Kobe Tribute

65 seconds left—down by 12.

Jim Rome
January 28, 2020 - 10:50 am
Buddy Hield

USA Today

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All across the NBA, every team and a lot of players are paying tribute to Kobe Bryant. Moments of silence. 24-second shot violations. 8-second backcourt violations. Number changes. And marked up sneakers. You’ve probably heard this a few times since Sunday, but it’s worth repeating: Kobe was this generation’s Michael Jordan. Kobe grew up watching Mike. The guys on the court today grew up watching Kobe. 

One dude that adored Kobe and knew him very well is Sacramento Kings guard, Buddy Hield. Buddy wrote in a 2016 column for The Players’ Tribune, “Kobe was a myth for me growing up. I’m from a neighborhood in the Bahamas called Eight Mile Rock, about as far away from LA as you can get. But as a kid I only wore number 8 or 24.”

Buddy first met Kobe when he was playing at Oklahoma. On draft night back in 2016 Kobe texted Buddy and told him, “It doesn’t matter where you go. It matters more what you do when you get there. Just go there and work.”

After Buddy was drafted by the Pelicans, Kobe invited him to a one-on-one two-hour 6am workout in LA. Buddy said his arms were noodles afterwards and Kobe told him, “You know, when I was younger I’d have come back in the afternoon and done it again.”

Buddy wore number 24 in college. He wore it in New Orleans. And he’s been wearing it ever since getting to sac town. The Oklahoma assistant athletic director tweeted after Sunday’s tragic news that he has never met a bigger Kobe fan in his life than Buddy Hield. 

Last night, Buddy Hield and the Sacramento Kings played their first game since Kobe’s death. The game was in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. And it was all T-Wolves for 42 minutes and change. 

With 5:52 left in the 4th quarter the Kings were being blown out of the building by 22 points.

Then with a minute and five seconds left—it was 117-105, T-Wolves.  Ballgame, thanks for coming. 

But then something crazy happened. Something we’ve never seen before in NBA history. The Kings came back. 

And Buddy Hield scored 9 of their next 12 points in 60 seconds of gameplay before De’Aaron Fox pulled off a miraculous intentional miss at the free throw line that he rebounded himself and put back to tie it up at 119 and send it to OT.

In just over one minute, the Kings finished the 4th quarter on a 14 to 2 run to force overtime. Think about that. 65 seconds left—down by 12—and they come back to tie it up. Somehow. Someway.

And there was no chance they weren't gonna finish in overtime. 

133 – 129, Kings. The first team in NBA history to overcome a 17-point deficit with 2:49 or less left on the clock. 8,378 teams have tried. 8,378 teams have failed. Not the Kings. Not last night.

As for Buddy Hield—who was playing in Kobe sneakers, wearing his idol’s number 24; he went for a career-high 42 points. The reverse number of 24. And he did it on 24 shots. And his 5 boards and 3 dimes, of course, totaled up to 8. You can't make this stuff up.

Only two guys in the last two decades have ever scored 20 points on 100% shooting in the 4th quarter to overcome a 25-point deficit. Buddy Hield—and Kobe Bryant.

Sports are wild, man. Here’s a kid who grew up in the Bahamas idolizing Kobe—meets him in college—works out with him after draft day—and balls out to a career high in a historic win while wearing the number 24 just 48 hours after his hero tragically passed away.

Longtime fill-in host, great friend of the show, and 32-year Sacramento Kings television broadcaster, Grant Napear called last night the most amazing thing he’s ever seen in a postgame interview with Buddy. 

“It was all for Kobe.”

What a moment. What a comeback. What a game. 

Mamba Magic in Minnesota last night for the Kings—no doubt about it