Buddy Hield on breaking the Kings 3-point season record held by Peja Stojaovic
Kings guard Buddy Hield left the locker room late Saturday night with a smile on his face and the game ball under his arm after breaking Peja Stojakovic’s single-season franchise record for 3-point baskets.
When Hield’s 15-month-old daughter saw him coming, she waddled across the hallway as quickly as she could to show daddy she had her own ball and a big smile, too. It was one of those picture-perfect life moments we don’t always stop to appreciate. Someone should have started a slow clap.
“Getting the record from Peja, he left a mark on this franchise and it’s pretty big, and it’s something special,” Hield said. “I hope I can keep it for many years, but there is always going to be some other kid that is going to come up and break records.”
In the movies, this could have been the emotional climax, but in real life it was neither the beginning nor the end of Hield’s ongoing 3-point shootout with Stojakovic, the Kings’ assistant general manager and one of the organization’s all-time greats. It was just the latest epoch in a saga that has produced many of its most memorable moments behind the scenes when the cameras weren’t rolling and no one was watching.
Some friendly banter at the practice facility escalates into good-natured trash talking. The competitive instincts take over. Kings general manager Vlade Divac eggs them on. Next thing you know, you’ve got the two most prolific shooters in franchise history – Stojakovic, 41, the Kings’ all-time 3-point leader, versus Hield, 26, who just surpassed his finest season – going head-to-head in a closed-door 3-point contest for the ages.
Apparently this has happened several times since the Kings acquired Hield in the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans in February 2017. So who wins?
On this night, it was Hield, who made seven 3-pointers to blow by Stojakovic’s record, but rumor has it that Stojakovic still emerges victorious in some of those one-on-one battles.
“Ask him,” Stojakovic said with a smile. “I hope he’s going to be honest.”
Fine, we’ll ask him, but first let’s talk about how cool this is.
Stojakovic helped the Kings make eight consecutive playoff appearances from 1999-2006. He authored one of the most brilliant seasons in team history in 2003-04, when he finished fourth in MVP voting and ranked second in the league in scoring, averaging a career-high 24.2 points per game.
Stojakovic led the NBA in free-throw shooting (.933) and 3-point goals that year, setting a franchise record with 240. He broke the previous record of 225, set by Mitch Richmond in 1995-96.
Stojakovic also holds the Kings all-time record with 1,070 3-point goals over eight seasons in Sacramento. He was a three-time All-Star who won the 3-Point Contest twice, first in 2002 and again the next year.
Then there’s Hield, who is averaging 20.9 points per game in a breakout third season. He is fourth in the NBA in 3-point goals and sixth in 3-point percentage, shooting 43.2 percent from beyond the arc. He appeared in his first 3-Point Contest this season, finishing third behind Joe Harris of the New Jersey Nets and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
Hield has made 569 3-pointers in his career, putting him on pace to break an NBA record held by Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who made 599 over his first three seasons.
“He’s having an unbelievable season,” Stojakovic said. “I’m happy for Buddy. Buddy is up there with, in my mind, probably the top five shooters in the league, so he’s doing great.”
Until the cameras aren’t rolling and no one is around. Then it’s on.
“He is always talking (trash),” Hield said. “Peja is one of the most confident guys and he talks the most (trash). I don’t know who talks the most (trash) between him and Vlade. I talk a little (trash), but I have to be respectful.”
So who wins?
Hield says they’ve competed about 10 times over the past two years and he admits Stojakovic sometimes wins.
“Yeah, he wins some,” Hield said. “I won’t lie to you. I’d say it’s half and half. He can still shoot it, but you know me. I’m not going to back down.”
Hield said the two of them share a special relationship and he credits Stojakovic with helping him develop as a shooter.
“He’s prepared me so much,” Hield said. “He’s always on me (about) how to get better, how to get my shot off quicker, how to use my pump fake. He’s still doing that today. A lot of my success comes from talking to him and trying to test him.”