A baseline corner view of the home of the Busan KT SonicBoom. The SonicBoom never trailed, coasting to a 78 -73 win over the Incheon Elephants.
The love for basketball and the desire to travel brings me to South Korea, where I will be doing a reportage on the Korean Basketball League. Up to this point, I’ve been to two basketball cities, Ulsan and Busan. In Ulsan, I watched the game from the couch to see what the broadcasting is like while in Busan I attended the game. I put together a quick rundown so you kind of get the idea of the league. In future posts, I’ll put game details and treat them as game stories. Enjoy. – thebasketballbuddha
The Korean Basketball League (KBL) was created in 1997. Since then, annual attendance of the league has grown to about 1.5 million. That is a total of 1.5 million fans per year attending KBL games.
Despite always being overshadowed by China, basketball in Korea has been around even prior to the 1948 Summer Olympics when Korea finished 8th place, stronger then teams such as Canada, Argentina and Italy.
Today, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) ranks Korea at 33 in the world (Canada ranks 26th, Japan ranks 35th). The KBL consists of 10 teams, six in the “Seoul area” and four being in the more southern parts of South Korea. The 54 game season runs from the start of October until the end of April. Each team is allowed to have two foreign players (players who are not born in Korea). For the most part, foreign players are of the centre or forward position (Korea has more than enough guards and not enough “dunkers/rebounders”).
Opening tip for Korean Basketball League action.
The KBL’s foreign players are usually former NCAA role players who couldn’t land a pro job in the NBA or Europe. In the future, watch out for half-breed Koreans to come play here in the KBL as a native. Tae-Jong Moon was born in Seoul, South Korea to an American father and a Korean mother. Moon played four years in the NCAA with the University of Richmond. In 1998, Moon declared for the NBA draft but went undrafted. Moon, who lived in the USA his entire life, gained a Korean citizenship and is now playing for the Incheon Elephants. I expect more of these foreign/native player stories to come in the future.
The attendance for KBL games is about 4,000 per game. However, if you were there, you would think there are many more than 4,000. The atmosphere is a live and well. Koreans are very passionate very passionate when it comes to sports (Take a quick look at the 2002 World Cup for prime examples).
Some things that were noticeably odd (from a foreigners perspective) were the snack choices for fans here at KBL games. Instead of your hot dog and nacho mix, Korean basketball fans are snacking on kimchi and rice mixes. Also, instead of over priced concession stands, KBL arenas have 7/11’s for your convenience (tall cans of beer for $2 USD).
Courtside seats for $25 USD (first come first serve), high tempo basketball and cheerleaders (how could they go unmentioned), the KBL is am admirable basketball league and has a bright future.
Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of Basketballbuddha.com.