If you had Saddiq Bey being the next NBA player to cross the 50-point threshold, it might be time to purchase a lottery ticket.
While the nation was glued to the NCAA Tournament, Bey created his own version of “March Madness” against the Orlando Magic. The 22-year-old dropped a career-high 51 points and led the Detroit Pistons to a 134-120 victory.
Bey is easily one of the most unlikely players to drop 50 points in a game in the last decade, let alone this year. So it makes sense that he draws inspiration from another unlikely source — a fictional character we’re programmed to root against.
Saddiq Bey became the 13th player to score 50 or more this season
There was one game on the NBA schedule Thursday, the first real night of the NCAA Tournament. Considering it featured two 18-win clubs, it wouldn’t be surprising if even the fans in Orlando were watching college hoops on their smartphones instead.
Yet by the end of the night, all eyes were on Bey.
The second-year forward out of Villanova scored 51 points on 17-of-27 shooting. He also hit 10-of-17 three-point attempts and was one rebound shy of being the ninth 50-point scorer this season to secure a double-double in the same game.
Bey, a 6-foot-7 native of North Carolina, did the bulk of his damage at the beginning and end of the contest. The young Piston scored 21 of his team’s 37 first-quarter points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. He then dropped another 15 points in the fourth quarter while hitting three triples.
Detroit is bullish on Bey, a first-team All-Rookie selection in 2020-21. But he’s never been a huge scorer, averaging 16.3 points per game this year even after scoring 51. Yet he now becomes the 13th 50-point scorer of the season and the sixth in March alone.
Bey draws inspiration from a comic book villain
One might look at Bey and notice a physical forward with solid two-way capabilities. Though aesthetically, you’ll also see a small green patch of hair sitting atop his 22-year-old head.
Pistons beat writer James Edwards III explained how Bey resonates with The Joker, going as far as to honor Batman’s arch-nemesis by dying his hair (h/t The Athletic).
“The patch is an ode to The Joker, the famous villain who has terrorized Batman, everyone’s favorite hero, for more than 80 years. Bey grew up watching Batman cartoons, gravitating more toward the character who generated mayhem throughout Gotham. Bey, too, wants to create chaos. He wants to be the villain. Bey wants you to hate him. He wants you to say something so that he can say something back.”James Edwards III
It goes beyond that. Ahead of the 2020 Draft, Bey told HoopsHype what his music of choice is to get him fired up for a game.
“I actually used to listen to The Joker soundtrack,” Bey explained. “It’s crazy to say but I did. He is my favorite character in the Batman universe. If you listen to it when you watch the movie, you’ll hear little things that capture the moment. That helps set the mood for how I’m going to play on the court. I can’t explain it because it’s just so personal to me.”
The Detroit Pistons now have a villain of their own
At 19-51, these aren’t exactly the “Bad Boy” Pistons. But Detroit now has a new bad boy in Bey, a confident forward who’s unafraid of his competition.
Bey is fueled by going on the road and silencing the home crowd. He scored 34 points earlier this season in Milwaukee against the defending champion Bucks and racked up 51 points in Orlando.
“Being on the road, I feel like the world is against me,” Bey told The Athletic soon after Thursday’s game came to a close. “Even though fans are probably just trying to enjoy the game, I feel like everyone is against us as a team.”
The Pistons are certainly a good deal away from truly scaring opposing fans on a nightly basis. But just as The Joker is relentless in his pursuit to destroy Gotham City, Bey will be relentless in leading Detroit on its new, promising journey.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.