Lance "Buddy" Franklin plays his 250th AFL game for the Sydney Swans against Collingwood on Friday night. That places him in pretty rare company. He's also on the verge of 800 career goals, which would put him in an even rarer group.
Ahead of the milestone game, and because it's Friday (phew), here are six pictures of Buddy being awesome plus four hilarious stories about the 30-year-old, who remains contracted to the Swans until the end of the 2022 season, at which point he'll be 35.
Pic 1 is at the top of this story. Pic 2 is below.
That's Buddy on the right, with his old Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson and former teammate Jarryd Roughead after he and Roughie were drafted by the Hawks in 2004. They look a little starstruck. How soon the world would be struck by their star qualities.
You'll like this. It's from this brief but excellent profile piece by Will Swanton in The Australian this week. So when 17-year-old Franklin had his first interview with Hawthorn, they asked about his weaknesses. Buddy said sorry, he couldn't think of any. Smug or nervous? We'll give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk it down to the latter.
The Carlton player seems to be saying "who is this guy and how did he do that?" as Buddy kicks a goal in his first AFL season in 2005. Defenders are still wondering.
This story is about the nickname. Buddy grew up on a property in the wheat belt north of Perth. There were other Lances in his family, including his dad. So for one reason or another, he became Buddy. When he moved to Melbourne to play professional AFL footy, he never introduced himself as Buddy because he thought he'd come across as full of himself. He still introduces himself as "Lance".
We love this image of Buddy at the traditional parade before the 2008 AFL grand final, in which the Hawks upset the Cats. He already had his game face on.
Further to the anecdote above about his nickname, when The Huffington Post Australia interviewed Franklin last year, he told us it was not disrespectful for strangers to call him Buddy. We thought that was nice. Because when you think about it, nicknames are usually just for people who know you.
Buddy's first training session as a Swan. We like.
You know how Franklin seems to nail goals from impossibly long distances and difficult angles but miss the easy ones in from close up? Well as this story on Fox Sports this week told, he's been like that forever. Buddy is who he is.
The big man in action. How good?
Never change, Buddy. Your 2016 was the best year of your career, and we hope you keep kicking on.