SAN FRANCISCO—The play was designed for Bojan Bogdanovic, but Sadiq Bey decided to go rogue instead.

With 1.0 seconds left in the game against the Warriors and the Pistons feeling the weight of Klay Thompson’s 3 tie on their shoulders just before, Detroit had one last chance to avoid another late-game blunder. Head coach Dwayne Casey crafted a play that should have put Bogdanovic in corner 3, but needed a screen from the bay to work. Bey didn’t set the screen. Instead, he ran for the ball and demanded it from Killian Hayes, who, in a quick move to the sideline far from timeout, made the play happen just as he had envisioned it in his head. Even though I was puzzled by the fact that I didn’t have it, I took on the obligation. Bay caught the ball mid-spin and contorted his body to send it flying. Bey watched the ball fly off the floor. bottoms.

Bey stood up and puffed out his chest. His teammates chased him like a game of tag. The Pistons won because Bay decided to win.

“He was on Kobe,” Hayes said after the game. “The play was originally meant for Bogey, but he didn’t even give Bogey a chance.”

Bay is Kobe Bryant’s stan. Most in their 20s and 30s who grew up watching the heyday of the late, great Lakers stars do. But Bay takes it to another level. He has a tattoo of the Mamba logo on his upper arm. If you ask him personally, he’ll say he believes Kobe is the greatest player of all time.

Bay, like his hero, lives moments like one Wednesday night. It was almost exactly a year ago that he hit his three in a ridiculous game win to beat the Spurs. He scored his 51st in a game against the Magic last March. Bay, much like Kobe, prefers playing on the road to his home. He would rather feel the anguish of the opposing team than the joy of the home team. It’s part of the Joker mentality he has. The green patch in his hair is an ode to his favorite villain. He has a Joker tattoo on his left calf.

On the basketball court, Bey finds inspiration in the pain of others.

“It’s my preparation every day, my entire life,” Bay said. “I just wanted to be here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for participating in the match. ”

The last line says a lot without saying much.

Bey’s third season in Detroit not only faced great adversity, but also serves as a reminder that not everything is always perfect. Bay appeared in over 120 consecutive games with the Pistons from his rookie year through the beginning of this season. He earned All-Rookie honors two seasons ago. He has his 50 ball to his name. Bey was on top of the world to launch his NBA career. And in November, with the struggling Pistons searching for answers and better balance, Casey chose to move Bay to the bench. became expendable in the starting group. Detroit needed to improve their rebounding and defense, so they increased their starting lineup. Struggling to shoot three balls in his first two months of the season, Bay could not find enough consistency for Casey to look elsewhere for a change. Head his coach wants to get the most out of Bay and felt making him one of his go-to scorers in the second unit was the best decision for everyone involved. rice field.

However, injuries and suspensions have seen Bay bounce back and forth between the bench and the starting unit. He’s looking for rhythm and finding his place in this team. A rookie who once seemed to have the world in front of him, Bay only recently had to navigate the individual challenges that many at this exclusive club endure.

That’s why that moment in that arena, that shot, meant so much to the people around Bay every day.

“I’m very happy because Sadiq has been in and out of the starting lineup,” Bogdanovic said. ”

These days Bay is starting to round to the form we’ve come to know in his young NBA career. Casey trusts him in late-game situations and trusts him to protect some of the enemy team’s top players.

Certainly, this wasn’t the role Bey envisioned when he entered the NBA, nor the role he saw after his first two seasons in the NBA. But that’s the beauty of this league and this game. Not everything is perfect. Not everything goes according to plan.

Bays are important to what Detroit is building. The Pistons believe in him, even if the role change shows otherwise: nothing is easy in the NBA. Bay learned it the hard way. Still, Bey found a way to thrive in turbulence.

Bay’s season wasn’t perfect. The winning play wasn’t perfect either. His shot wasn’t perfect either, but that’s okay.

“I’m proud of him,” said Isaiah Stewart. “The way he’s handled it and he’s been handling it…he’s locked up. He’s not keeping his head down. He’s focused on his job every game. Hats off. Me. pays tribute to it.

(Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)


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