We never need a reason to leave to home. Home is not where the heart is for 10YS, it’s literally anywhere we need a passport to get to. We’ve followed Buddy Hield to Oklahoma, the Final Four in Indianapolis, the Elite Eight and NBA Draft in New York, New Orleans and of course all the way Sacramento. The Kings run through the Florida Swing this week (road games in Orlando and Miami) so this was our opportunity to cover Buddy, basically in our backyard for the first time. Nothing about this will be normal.
5:15pm – John chastises me for ironing and getting what he calls “dressed up” to go cover the game. I try to explain the difference in how we have to approach many things…especially the way we look…in America. These are the important discussions we need to have for race relations.
5:57pm – We get to the arena and the first thing you notice is that the Amway Center is huge. We spot a Bahamian flag almost immediately though, always a good sign.
6:05pm – A 10YS right of passage is always critiquing media food. It’s possible I anticipated this more than the game only to have that anticipation superseded by extreme disappointment. The food was horrible – beef brisket, Mexican rice that I’m certain had no ties to Mexico whatsoever, burnt broccoli and soft serve Ice – cream. I’m eating like the sportswriter I don’t want to look like in 15 years
6:38pm – At a table of, let’s call them “seasoned” Kings writers and personnel, they share a collective scoff at the notion of Buddy making the 3-point contest in All-Star Weekend in LA. I resist the urge to shout “CYC” (not the acronym, the full thing) and throw my pretzel in their faces but I err on the side of caution. I put my anger away for 2018
6:39pm – I tipped over one of their drinks in a faux accident as I got up from the table #BuddyBuckets
6:47pm – In the media panic room (the door is really like a vault) they post the starters for both teams. The Kings go with three Wildcats – ZBo, Willie Trill, Fox, Bogie and Vince Carter. Is there a tribute video on the way I don’t know about? Does everyone know that VC is 40 and Alex Guerrero is not his doctor?
6:57pm – None of the Kings beat writers are focused on this game. All the buzz is about a possible Kings trade described as “on the 1 yard line.” The names of the players involved change every time someone new is added to the conversation so we speculate if the trade is happening mid-game. My only contribution is to say “If you trade anyone from Kentucky this entire front office is stupid.” This is the most fun part of the NBA, and probably why people love Twitter so much. There was a time when Peter Vescey and Mitch Albom kept this to themselves.
7:07pm – I’ll never understand Elfrid Payton’s hair, however, this could be the hair matchup of the season against De’Aaron Fox though.
7:17pm – Zach Randolph is a late scratch and amid trade rumors, Skal gets the start and has four points and three rebounds in first four minutes of the game.
7:23pm – There’s a growing discontent among the group of friends seated to the left of me just outside media row. One guy believes in Jonathan Simmons more than black women believe in Oprah and it’s not even close. “You don’t understandhow important Johnathan Simmons is to this team because you don’t understand his story like I do.” Not a pause in sight.
7:29pm – Buddy checks in at the 3:32 mark in the first quarter. The first set called is a post up for Vince Carter. He’s even more 40 than he was when the game started.
7:33pm – After camping out in the corners and waiting on a kick out that has yet to come, Buddy’s first score came off an isolation play, when he made a driving layup.
7:47pm – Buddy blocks a DJ Augustin layup and I’m reporting exclusively that he said “Go from roun here king.” Nobody else on media row, got that, I’m breaking this story. This is the best I can do in actual journalism.
7:53pm – During the timeout, the Magic host an NFL mascot Pro Bowl challenge.….the Dolphins lost that too….of course.
7:55pm – Bogie is the best passér in pick in roll situations for the Kings, I hope they don’t run this storyline into the ground.
7:58pm – This dude is taking meticulous notes on exactly how long Johnathan Simmons has been out of the game. Nobody should be that exact with timekeeping after that many beers.
8:01pm – When I’m old I want to have Vince Carter’s life. At this point he gets to do whatever he wants, void of all consequence. He caught the ball on the wing, there was some running pirouette pass…to no one. That being said, we keep hearing he’s a really great mentor to the young guys and he might get a dunk later so ESPN can run a graphic of 40-year-old athletes doing things.
8:05 pm – The Magic head into the half up 53-52
8:07 pm – At halftime it feels a little like we were left in the care of a substitute teacher and allowed to run amuck. There’s been a noticeable shift in the music to skew a bit less Disney…a bit more trap.
8:13 pm – Buddy is the only player warming up without a hoodie at the half. The House DJ is still at it and starts to play Migos and Lil Yachty’s “Ice Tray.” This could mean something.
8:15 pm – Garrett Temple and Justin Jackson start in place of Fox and Skal. Fox is out of the game for good with an abdominal strain, Skal is sidelined possibly due to the rising anti-Haitian sentiment sweeping across America in the wake of Donald Trump’s comments…or he wasn’t boxing out, it’s one of those two reasons, I’m sure of it.
8:17 pm – VC just dunked on a guy, entire media row is befuddled. They really enjoy this more than anything else. It’s like watching a family gathered in the living room being way too impressed by the simplest things a baby does.
8:19 pm – Jonathon Simmons opens the third quarter with 11 points in just under 7 minutes. One man in this building is now the personification of vindication.
8:22 pm – They just began the wave next to me. I’m also where the wave dies.
8:36 pm – Buddy makes his third three of the game in four attempts, almost criminal not to run sets for him at this point. He followed with a steal and fast-break layup on the next possession. That’s five straight points, we may be on to something.
8:38 pm – Buddy from a year ago was pulling up for the transition three on a heat check, this Buddy dished it to Malachi Richardson and started to celebrate the shot before Richardson even squared his shoulders to put it up. Richardson missed….sometimes I want the other Buddy back.
8:47 pm – Wait a minute, that Buddy is still here, pull up transition three on the break….never change Buddy Buckets….never change.
8:55 pm – The Kings get back to running their 74th Bogie/Trill pick and roll because they’re basically Stockton and Malone right? Right.
9:01 pm – Buddy slips and looks like he hyperextended something There’s an audible hush over the crowd, not really, it was just me but this was important. Tied at 94, 4:55 left to play and Justin Jackson checks in.
9:02pm – I contemplate what the nightlife is like in Orlando on a random Tuesday night. If Buddy’s done for the night…so are we.
9:15 pm – Temple single handily wins the game for the Kings with a career-high 34 and hitting every single jumper fueled by irrational confidence.
11:30 pm – I’ve taken that same irrational confidence to downtown Orlando, yadda, yadda, yadda…journalism