After years in the proverbial cellar, the Sacramento Kings are finally playing respectable basketball.
With a record of 16-15 at the time of this writing, the Kings are scrapping for a playoff spot in the wildly competitive Western Conference. A big reason for their revival is the stellar play of guard Buddy Hield.
In his third NBA season, the former Oklahoma Sooners star has made the leap. Hield is averaging new career-highs in points (19.9), rebounds (5.0) and assists (2.5) per game. He’s also shooting a sizzling 43.3% from deep while knocking down three three-pointers per game.
Hield’s status as one of the NBA’s deadliest shooters had its origins in the Eight Mile Rock neighborhood of the Bahamas. There wasn’t any sort of basketball court in the area until he was 12, so he had to take matters into his own hands. He explored abandoned houses and scrapyards for unused plywood he could cut and saw into a backboard. The result was this hoop, which Hield spent so many hours practicing on that “his mother would literally come in the dark to chase him home“:
In a time where youth sports are more expensive than ever, with equipment, uniforms and travel fees often costing thousands of dollars a year, it’s important to remember the most critical ingredient to sports success is desire.
Hield’s work ethic remained unchanged as he slowly climbed the ladder to NBA stardom. His high school coach says he would literally have to lock up all the basketballs to keep him from practicing. His coaches at Oklahoma would beg Hield to rest his legs, usually unsuccessfully, as he launched 300-700 shots a day outside of practice. In Sacramento, he’s been known to have three separate pre-game workouts on game days, and often shows up to the arena to workout on the team’s rare off days.
With a backcourt built around Hield and the devilishly fast De’Aaron Fox, the Sacramento Kings have a bright future for the first time in a long time.
Photo Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images