Ha SeungJin was heckled by a front row fan on his way out of the game after going face first into the elbow of Samsung Thunder forward Leo Lyons.
According to multiple Korean sources, the female fan yelled out something along the lines of, “don’t pretend like you’re hurt, you didn’t even play that hard. You are faking another injury?”.
Ha SeungJin, who has been battling injuries throughout his entire career, took the comment to heart. Before entering the tunnel, Ha SeungJin tried going after the fan before being held back by Samsung Thunder arena security.
Ha SeungJin is coming off a two year absent from basketball due to South Korea’s mandatory military service but with actions like this one could question the amount of discipline acquired from his two years with the Korean army. As a fan who paid her hard earned money to be a part of the live KBL experience, she has the right to express her opinions towards what she sees. There are no laws against cheering or jeering. Of course, the latter does have some low blows that should face immediate ejections, ie: sexist, racist, homophobic, going after someones family. But this fan was just commenting on what was going on right in front of her. Nothing wrong with that.
The real problem is the lack of professionalism from a professional basketball player. It’s Ha Seungjin’s 8th year as a pro, enough time to know that no matter what, you just can’t go after fans. What would have happened if those security guards weren’t there? Was he just going to talk to the girl? From what we see in the video, the rage and forceful actions say otherwise.
The freshest memory that comes to mind in player vs. fan incidents is last year’s NCAA season when oklahoma state Cowboys guard Marcus Smart shoved a Virginia Tech fan after being called for a foul on a missed attempt at a block.
Smart later apologized to his teammates and fans, tweeting, “Today wasn’t one of my most proudest moments. I lost my composure and left my team hanging. It won’t happen again and I apologize to my team.”
And while he is a human being first and a professional basketball player first, this type of behaviour is just unacceptable. In situations like this, somebody needs to be the bigger person (no pun intended) and just walk away. Unlike the NBA, the KBL relies heavily on big numbers at the ticket offices to keep the engine running. Having players go after fans for negative comments will not help filling empty seats. To make matters worse the fan involved is a female. Again, if the Samsung Thunder security guards weren’t there, what would have Ha SeungJin done to this female fan? I’m not going to speculate and write things that didn’t happen but there certainly seems like an attempt to do something more than engage in a verbal argument.
There is still some blame on the female fan for shouting out negative feedback on Ha SeungJin’s injury. I mean, he did break his nose. That hurts and really sucks for a guy who’s worked hard the entire season to get healthy and play basketball. But at the end of the day, players and coaches must realize that they need to ignore the fans. It all comes down to being a professional and acting like a professional. Every professional basketball player deals with adversity at some point in their career. But they are professionals. Some use it as motivation while others completely ignore it. Nobody can do what Ha SeungJin did on the first day of January 2015 in Seoul.
If anybody knows Ha SeungJin they know this is far from his original character. I think his emotions got the best of him and that’s why he needs to apologize directly to the fan. A lot of Korean media is shining the spotlight directly on the fan and ignoring Ha SeungJin’s outburst. And while apologies don’t fix everything, in this case it would go a long way in showing what kind of person Ha SeungJin really is. Sure, you can feel sorry for Ha SeungJin and his injuries but that’s part of the career in which he chose to pursue. Negative comments from fans are also a part of that career. And what if this was not Ha SeungJin but one of the 20 foreign players who play in the KBL. What if a foreign player did the exact same thing as Ha SeungJin. I don’t think the fan would be a suspect but a victim in that situation. There are two sides to every story, but when it comes to professional basketball players, sometimes the professionalism is forgotten. In this case, Ha SeungJin ignored it completely.