The biggest name in Bahamian basketball returned home for the first time since he captivated both local and international media with his historic exploits on the hardwood this season.
Hield was treated to a hero’s welcome at the Lynden Pindling International Airport, a welcome that came as a surprise to the New Orleans Pelicans rookie guard.
“It was definitely a surprise. I got off the plane and they told me to go to the side door. I was thinking ‘Wow, I just got off the plane and I’m in trouble already,’ but it feels good to be back,” he said, “MAD Events has been on my back for like four months now. I feel like this was the perfect time to come. Before the Draft, my time schedule was so packed and as soon as I leave Freeport I have to go back to Vegas for another basketball camp. My schedule is so tight but I said ‘I have to go back home and give back to the kids.’ It’s a great idea and it’s something I always wanted to do. This was the only time I had free. A lot of kids know someone like me can inspire them, especially the young boys and showing them they don’t have to be surrounded by negative things and violence, you can find a way out. I see a lot of young boys, come to Sunrise from Nassau and I just try to mentor them and do what I can to help them.”
The aforementioned MAD Events will celebrate Hield for several days this week, highlighted by the “Buddy Hield Invitational” presented.
The Invitational takes place Saturday, July 23 at 11am at the newly refurbished Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
The inaugural game will feature 20 of the top boys high school basketball players in the country of varying classes.
In addition to showcasing their skills before the country and the biggest name in Bahamian basketball, players will also vye for an opportunity to claim a $10,000 scholarship, awarded to the game’s Most Valuable Player.
In addition to the All-Star Game, invited players will also compete in the 3-point shootout and the High Flyer’s slam-dunk contest.
A wide cross section of players invited to the event will include local players abroad like Sebastian Gray of Sunrise Christian Academy and Livingston Bromwell of Ridley College; the GSSSA, Hugh Campbell and National Championship MVP Corey Sands of CC Sweeting, Adam Johnson of the BAISS champion Prince William Falcons, the dynamic backcourt of Franco Miller Jr and Janeko Russell of the Tabernacle Baptist Falcons and Phillipe’s own Kaleel Solomon and Romero Cornish of the Sunland Baptist Stingers.
Tickets prices for the invitational are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.
“I just want to thank everyone involved. It’s going to be a fun week, a great week for the kids. I’m looking forward to the kids competing. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to them and inspire them in some type of way. Hopefully I can get a camp down here. I’m exited to be here and glad to be back home. And I’m especially glad to be able to give back to the kids,” Hield said, “We lack high level training. We have good coaches but the Americans are 10 years ahead of us. When I went to the states I had to put in that extra work. We have the raw talent, freak athletes that can jump out the gym but we need player development.”
The activities began with yesterday’s welcome reception. The celebration continues tonight as Hield will be one of 38 sporting legends honoured at the Walk of Fame on Mychal Thompson Blvd, followed by a meet and greet fundraiser at Sapodilla restaurant at 8 p.m. Those looking to RSVP for the meet and greet are asked to call 327-2161.
On Friday, Hield will conduct an autograph signing session at the Mall At Marathon at 3 pm. and on Saturday night following the invitational; MAD Events will host “the MAD House Party with Buddy Hield” at Mario’s Bowling Alley and Entertainment Palace.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Dr. Daniel Johnson, said Hield has been such a fan favourite based upon his character both on and off the court.
“Not since Mychal ‘Sweet Bells’ Thompson have we seen the likes of an individual like Buddy. It’s not just because of all of his awards. – I’ve followed him for a long time, went to many of the games, sat in the corner, went to the Draft – but his character,” Johnson said, “Every here that I have been to support team Bahamas and this young man, people have not spoken about his game, they have not talked about him being the best player in his bracket, what they spoke to is the amazing character of this young man from the Bahamas. They don’t talk about his technique and what he scores, they talk about a special young man from a special place. This is the pride our people have as Bahamians, and you are now one of the ones that we call hero.”
After being selected by the Pelicans with the 6th overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft, Hield recently completed play in the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las, Vegas Nevada.
He averaged 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds through five games.
Director General of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu, said Hield continues to inspire the nation
“Buddy-mania is alive and well in the Bahamas. We can let him see the love we have felt over the last few years but this year in particular when he took the 242 to the world. Buddy, wherever you go in the Bahamas over the next few days you will feel the heroes welcome that is going to be poured out for you. You have represented the Bahamas so very well and you have made every single one of us proud.,” she said, “We are a very small nation and in every generation you may be blessed to find among us there is a special citizen or maybe two who rises to international fame and we cherish these giants. In you Buddy, we recognize that we have a rare Bahamian and that’s why Buddy-mania has lit our landscape so fully.”