‘That speaks volumes about me': Buddy Hield on track for rare 84-game season

‘That speaks volumes about me': Buddy Hield on track for rare 84-game season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

As soon as Buddy Hield got traded to the Sixers, there was zero question he’d suit up for the team’s next game.

Settled in or not, Hield was going to play. He always plays.

This season, that constant availability has Hield positioned for a rare feat with two Sixers games left on the schedule.

If Hield appears in one, he’d become the 43rd player in NBA history to log at least 83 games in a season. Mikal Bridges reached that mark by being on the floor for a grand total of four seconds in last season’s finale vs. the Sixers.

If Hield appears in two, he’d become the first NBA player to notch an 84-game campaign since the 2004-05 season. Casey Jacobsen was the last player with two more games than the standard 82.

Hield smiled as he heard that the Sixers’ win Tuesday night over the Pistons was his 82nd outing this season.

“I take pride in that,” he said. “They call it the Iron Man in the league. What do I have, two more? So hopefully 83, 84. I’m blessed, man, to be able to play 82 games. Just got to keep taking care of my body and hopefully I can do it again next year. That’s always been the goal. Even after I got traded, I was mad I missed a game.

“I know how important it is to me, just setting a tone for the younger guys around the league. I just love to play. That speaks volumes about me — just loving to play each and every day.”

It’d be awfully harsh to say the Sixers’ deadline-day trade for Hield caused him to “miss a game,” but it’s true the Pacers played that Thursday night and he wasn’t a part of it.

Hield watched film of his new team on the plane to Philadelphia. He took his physical, went straight to the arena, shot jumpers in an empty arena several hours before tip-on, and played 40 minutes that Friday for the Sixers.

“I just love the game,” Hield said after debuting. “I’m very passionate about it, whether the result is good or bad in the game. I always stick to my routine that I’ve done since college. And I feel like that brings me so much joy, being part of the game. My family’s not here. So especially when I’m out here, I have more time to relax, be at peace and just work. Wherever I go, I want to give it my all and make the best of it.

“I came from the Bahamas; nothing was given to me. So everything I have, I’m very appreciative. Playing on a big stage like this just brings joy to me, my country. I’ve got to represent myself, my family and my country. I never take that for one bit, because there’s always some kid in the Bahamas looking at me each and every year when I go back home.

“Hopefully I can inspire him to be not me, but better than me. That’s always my goal. Whatever opportunity I have on the basketball court to put extra work in, I’m going to take advantage of that.”

While the mid-season deal from Indiana to Philadelphia made it doable, Hield (potentially) going over 82 games can't be considered much of an aberration.

This is Hield’s eighth NBA season. He’s appeared in 80 or more games six times. And across the COVID-shortened 2019-20 and ’20-21 seasons, he was out just once.

The 630th game of Hield’s career was a good one. He scored 18 points and made five three-point shots off the bench, helping the seventh-seeded Sixers to a sixth consecutive win.

With reigning MVP Joel Embiid as a teammate, he’s hoping to play his first NBA playoff game soon.

“Just patiently waiting,” Hield said. “Feeling little things with Joel back, just learning guys as everybody comes back. … Patience has been my calling ever since I’ve been here. Just waiting for everything to develop, and I know that things will always work out.”