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Buddy Hield has done more for The Bahamas in one NBA season than Rick Fox has in 13 seasons


Published: Aug 08, 2017

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 Dear Editor,

 

In a February 2015 edition of The Tribune, former columnist and current Free National Movement Long Island MP Adrian Gibson wrote an opinion piece titled "Ministers get their final grades in Cabinet report". In his assessment of former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, Gibson expressed concerns over reports that the Ministry of Tourism had "retained former NBA player Rick Fox on a ridiculous rolling retainer" to patronize events which were organized by the then government. Whatever Fox's retainer fees were, I can only imagine that they were exorbitant, based on Gibson's reaction. According to Gibson, Fox wasn't participating in any Bahamian sponsored event because he was proud to be Bahamian. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government had to cough up huge sums of money in order for him to show his face. Fox was also a part of the Ministry of Tourism's 2013 $14 million campaign which was aimed at reintroducing The Bahamas to the world. A series of TV commercials were produced and were aired on MSNBC, Lifetime, TNT, HGTV, the Cooking Channel and the Travel Channel. The first one featured supermodel Shakara Ledard, magician David Copperfield and Fox, and was played during the 2013 Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl game at a cost of $197,000. As was the case with his exorbitant retainer fees, Fox was obviously paid a tidy sum of money to appear in that commercial.

Fox has played in the NBA for 13 seasons as a Boston Celtic and a Los Angeles Laker. During his stint with the Lakers, he, along with former NBA players Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, led Los Angeles to three consecutive NBA championship titles between 2000-2002. In his Wikipedia biography, Fox's nationalities are Canadian and Bahamian. In my opinion, Fox was more devoted to Canada than to The Bahamas during his NBA career. He even played for team Canada in the 1994 FIBA World Championships. Fox has never played on the Bahamian national team. To my recollection, he has never held a basketball camp in this country. He did make a guest appearance at the 2015 Jeff Rodgers Basketball Camp and the Pinewood Gardens Christmas Basketball Camp in January 2013 along with former Pinewood Gardens MP Khaalis Rolle. But that is the extent of it.

The Nassau Guardian stated that Fox was having discussions with PLP government officials as it pertained to his contributions to national development. Whatever became of those talks is anyone's guess. It is interesting that Fox's appearance at the Pinewood Gardens event coincided with the launch of the Ministry of Tourism TV commercials. In all likelihood, Fox was probably paid money to attend the basketball camp. With an estimated net worth of $20 million, Fox obviously does not need The Bahamas or any largesse from the treasury. Still, he should not be shocked that Bahamians are viewing his all of a sudden enthusiastic participation in Bahamian national development with a large degree of cynicism. Many Bahamians are of the view that Fox is only now saying he is Bahamian in order to cash in. During his 13 seasons in the NBA, Fox gave very little back to this country. Conversely, Buddy Hield, who has just completed his rookie season in the NBA with the New Orlean Hornets and the Sacramento Kings, held his very own basketball camp at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. Some of the proceeds from the camp were donated to Hands for Hunger. Even while playing at the collegiate level for the Oklahoma Sooners, Buddy was holding basketball camps in Grand Bahama — his native island. In addition to his recent camp, Buddy sponsored a concert in Freeport which was held at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex during the August Monday weekend in order to assist those whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Matthew. I understand that he has been very generous in assisting the less fortunate youth in his native Eight Mile Rock community and parishioners at a Freeport-based church he once attended.

Buddy has not shied away from his Bahamian nationality. Unlike Fox, Buddy wears his nationality on his sleeves. When he was drafted by New Orleans in 2016, he flashed the Bahamian flag colors in the jacket he was wearing while family and friends chanted 242 — the Bahamian area code. I also heard him, along with his former Oklahoma Sooners teammates, chanting 242. Buddy has stated that he wants to give back to his home country. He is living up to that pledge. He has hasn't forgotten his country, despite achieving phenomenal success and wealth in the NBA. In my opinion, Buddy Hield has done far more for The Bahamas in just one season than Rick Fox has done in 13 seasons.

 

– Kevin Evans

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