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How 'little Buddy Hield' got on the court and scored at Pacers FanJam — and a lesson learned
"He really got the people going and that’s what FanJam is all about," said Myles Turner.
For about one minute, a young Pacers fan got to feel like one of the guys. He put on a sweaty Pacers practice jersey, checked in at the scorer’s table, dribbled and even scored.
Together, the team celebrated him. And the crowd let him hear it too.
High fives all around. From Bennedict Mathurin, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton and more. They continued until finally he walked over to the scorer’s table to slap hands with assistant coach Mike Weinar and Hield his practice jersey back.
It all happened a week ago at Pacers FanJam when Jackson, who was sitting courtside, simply asked. Hield was right there — and that’s what an event like Pacers FanJam, which has been held for over a decade, is all about.
“So I said, ‘OK, put my jersey on,’ Hield said. “I went to Rick (Carlisle) and coach Mike (Weinar) to make sure it was fine for them to do. … Rick was totally fine with it and he said, ‘Hey, go check in.’”
Chris Denari, the television voice of the Pacers, was serving as the public address announcer for the event and when there was a dead ball, he announced, “Now in for the White Team is little Buddy Hield, number 24.”
The White Team was trailing and Jackson got the ball on a fast break, then threw it ahead to Jalen Smith on the left arc. Smith bounced it to Jackson, who took one dribble and scored the layup with his right hand.
The players all had big smiles and they quickly made their way to Jackson on the court.
“That was special, man,” Hield said. “The kid wanted to go out there on the court and feel what it’s like to be with NBA players and everybody supporting him. The fans had his back and him making the layup is awesome.”
Afterward, head coach Rick Carlisle had a microphone at center court and asked Jackson how he got in the game. “Because I asked,” he replied, which garnered laughter and cheers from the thousands of fans at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“So there’s a lesson,” Carlisle said with a proud grin. “You never know until you ask. Great job, man.”
Asked about it the next day, Carlisle said, “It was pretty impressive. The kid was out there running around, runs a give-and-go and scores a bucket. The place went crazy.”
The White Team needed that bucket to eventually force overtime, where they edged the Blue Team by two points. All with the help of Jackson, who had a special day thanks to Hield and the team.
“That was awesome, man,” added center Myles Turner. “He really got the people going and that’s what FanJam is all about.