Buddy Hield celebrated his birthday Monday night in Minnesota. While the game never was in doubt -- the Timberwolves won by 27 -- the Kings guard's actual age became a topic of discussion.
Prior to taking the floor, Hield told the Kings broadcast team of Grant Napear and Doug Christie that he turned 26 years old. Strangely enough, every media outlet has his birthday listed as Dec. 17, 1993, which would make him 25.
Following the Kings’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, Hield explained the discrepancy on a 1-on-1 interview.
“That’s their fault, not my fault,” Hield said when asked why everywhere, including the NBA’s website, has him listed as 25. “The first time I saw it on Wikipedia, my mom said, ‘Why do they have your age wrong?’ I said, ‘I have no idea.’ ”
Born in Freeport, the main city on the island of Grand Bahama, Hield came to the U.S. with identification and, according to the Kings star, all of it has the correct date.
“I came over with a passport,” Hield said. “My passport has 1992 on it. My driver's license has 1992 on it. I just think people got their information from Wikipedia or wherever, and they just went with it. They just got it wrong.”
Hield said he believes the University of Oklahoma, where he played college basketball, had his age correct and that, somewhere along the way, a mistake was made in inputting his age into the NBA’s system. Hield's age and birthdate aren't listed in the Oklahoma men's basketball media guide for the guard's senior season, so it's unclear where an error was made or by whom.
“I gave them [the Kings] my passport, Peja [Stojakovic] and Vlade [Divac] know what age I am,” Hield said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
When reached for comment, Divac confirmed the team has Hield’s birth year as 1992 -- the same as Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Kings general manager isn't sure where the incorrect date came from, but he's confident the team has the right information.
At 26, Hield is having a breakout season. He's averaging 19.9 points per game on 47.9 percent shooting from the field and 43.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc. In addition to the scoring, he has improved in almost every facet, posting career highs in rebounds (5.0) and assists (2.5) while playing 30.8 minutes per game.
Hield, who actually was 23 when the New Orleans Pelicans took him No. 6 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft amid concerns he'd be "an old rookie," is in the third year of his rookie scale contract. He’ll be eligible for an extension next summer, which at this point, he’s earned. If he signs an extension, it wouldn’t kick in until the 2020-21 season.
Known for his work ethic, Hield doesn’t see an issue with him being a little older than originally thought.
“It might look good for me on my side for me looking younger, but it doesn’t matter,” Hield said. "I’m still going to be me out there on the court. I’m still going to be in shape, no matter what."
The age discrepancy likely won’t hurt Hield in his next contract, but it certainly will come into play later. Already a four-year college player, Hield's second contract won’t start until he's almost 28.
In comparison, his backcourt mate, De’Aaron Fox, who celebrated his 21st birthday Thursday, is eligible for an extension before he turns 23. Fox has an opportunity to work through an entire second contract before reaching the age that Hield will be when he signs his next deal.
Hield still is part of the Kings’ young core and a valuable member of the squad. He just isn’t quite as young as most people thought.