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Hield, Ayton may finish season at Disney

Bahamian NBA players Chavano “Buddy” Hield and DeAndre Ayton could resume their seasons at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The NBA is in talks with the Walt Disney Company to finish the season at a single site at Disney in Orlando, Florida, in late July. FILE

May 26, 2020

Simba French


It looks like Bahamians Chavano “Buddy” Hield and DeAndre Ayton may be headed to Disney World to finish their 2019-2020 NBA (National Basketball Association) seasons. According to the NBA Chief Communications Officer, Mike Bass, they are in “exploratory conversations” with the Walt Disney Company to finish the season at a single site at Disney in Orlando, Florida, in late July.

“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), is engaged in exploratory conversations about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida, as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” Bass said.

No other details were laid out in the press release as to whether or not the league will finish off the regular season or go straight into the playoffs.

It will be close to home for both Phoenix Suns’ center and New Providence native Ayton and Sacramento Kings’ guard Hield, who hails from Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama.

This comes after speculation that the league was going to continue its season in The Bahamas and Las Vegas, Nevada. The health of their players is one of the things that the league has also taken into consideration, since the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to suspend games as of March 11, stated the release.

“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” Bass said.

Some teams’ training facilities have reopened for limited voluntary workouts, since the league allowed teams to do so back on May 8. Both the Suns and Kings have resumed voluntary workouts.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is also rumored to play games at the ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex this summer, aiming for mid-June.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is a 255-acre campus with multiple arenas that could host games simultaneously and has been home to, among other things, the Jr. NBA Global Championship in recent years. ESPN is primarily owned by Disney, one of the NBA’s broadcast partners.

Before the season was suspended, both Bahamians were in the process of helping their teams fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference of the NBA.

The Kings sit in the 10th spot with a 28-36 win-loss record – three and a half games behind the 32-33 Memphis Grizzlies who occupy the eighth and final spot in the west. Sitting six games behind the Grizzles at 26-29 are the Suns.

Hield is the Mountain Dew NBA Three-Point Contest Champion this season. He is averaging 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. The Grand Bahamian is known for his long-distance bombs. He has connected on 244 three-point shots this season, second in the league, and 34 three-pointers shy of his career-high and franchise record of 278 from a year ago. It was the seventh most prolific shooting performance from downtown in NBA history. Hield is also the fastest player in league history to reach 800 made three-pointers. He accomplished that in 296 games.

Suns’ center Ayton was suspended for 25 games after opening night for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program. That did not stop him from returning to average a double-double so far this season. He is averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds per game – both career highs. He is also averaging a career high in blocks at 1.7 per contest. Ayton became the fastest Suns player to reach 1,000 rebounds in team history.

The United States of America (USA) has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over 1.7 million persons confirmed – more than 1.3 million higher than the second-highest country, Brazil, according to the latest COVID-19 numbers, up to press time last night. They have recorded close to 100,000 deaths.

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