There were tears in his eyes.
Scott Bamforth said he didn’t think anyone even noticed, but they were absolutely there on Wednesday night in the Pit after he and his Enchantment teammates were eliminated in the Round of 32 of the $1 million, winner-take-all TBT (The Basketball Tournament). It was one of eight regionals of eight teams played across the country.
Then again, was there anything the 32-year-old did this week that went unnoticed?
Despite being the only player actually from New Mexico on a roster otherwise composed of former UNM Lobos, Bamforth was pretty much the least familiar player on a team several thousand fans came to watch Monday and Tuesday.
They know him now.
Bamforth, who grew up in Albuquerque dreaming of being a Lobo, was never recruited by the program. The admitted “late bloomer” in basketball had his father die when he was 12, and his mother died when he was 14. After briefly living alone, and with the guidance of several mentors he calls guardian angels who stepped into his life, he made it through high school, was the state player of the year at Del Norte High School, but wasn’t recruited by his hometown team (or any other Division I program either, for that matter).
In the decade since, he went to a junior college, then to Weber State and has developed at several top leagues overseas into one of the best professional basketball players from the state of New Mexico.
So when the offer came to join The Enchantment this year from friend and team general manager Brandon Mason, Bamforth never hesitated.
“I felt at home, which I am,” Bamforth said after leading Enchantment in Monday’s win over the Panamaniacs, a team primarily of former NMSU Aggies, in the tournament’s first round.
“I was telling the guys (on The Enchantment roster) in the morning I’m blessed to put on a Lobo jersey to play with y’all. … Maybe I was I was a late bloomer, but it just felt good to really be a Lobo for a day.”
His heroics vs. the Panamaniacs were a large reason he got to also be a Lobo for a second day on Wednesday, too.
In two games for Enchantment, Bamforth led the team in scoring for both and averaged 23.0 points and 3.5 assists. Despite being the primary focus of opponent defenses, he also shot a blistering 71.4% from the field (15-of-21), 68.8% from 3-point range (11-of-16) and 100% from the free throw line (5-of-5).
In short, he was the best player on the court for Enchantment’s two-game run in the 2022 TBT.
And he hopes to do it all again.
“I’m going to be back,” Bamforth said when asked about playing again for The Enchantment in future TBT tournaments.
“… If they’ll have me, I’m going to be a Lobo again.”
After this week, there’s not much of a question about that.
Bamforth won over teammates, Lobo fans and even won in the press room while making sure he got everything out of the Pit experience he was never able to have in college.
After Monday’s win, Bamforth arrived to the postgame press conference with six boys – his three sons and his three godsons – who joined him on the stage for interviews as cameras and journalists stared back.
He wanted them to soak in the experience he used to dream of as a boy when he would watch games in the bleachers behind the south basket, from where he singled out Royce Olney as the Lobo he most wanted to be like based on a similar size and fight in his game.
Wednesday, Bamforth explained that his oldest son, 10-year-old Kingzton, who knows well his dad’s former teammates and friends like current NBA players Damian Lillard and Kristaps Porzingas, wasn’t all that familiar with the Lobos until doing some Google research the past few weeks.
“My son knows everything about basketball and he (excitedly said) ‘You’re about to play with J.R. (Giddens)? And Kenny Thomas is about to be your coach?'” Bamforth explained. “I was like, yeah. He said, ‘I can’t wait!'”
Walking out of the press room, Kingzton was asked who his favorite Lobo was now.
“Him,” the boy said, smiling and pointing to his dad.
After this week, Bamforth gained plenty of Lobo fans, too.