Benson slams home a put back dunk. Benson had 19 points to help the Sakers defeat the Promy in Wonju.
When the starting center of the visiting LG Sakers of the KBL was introduced in Wonju on Tuesday, the crowd gave him a warm welcome.
His name is Rod Benson. For the past two consecutives, Benson led the Wonju Dongbu Promy to the KBL championships. Benson, 28, is one of the most prolific basketball figures of the “digital era”.
Benson has a rich resume in both basketball and digital media. He started his career with a basketball scholarship at the University of California in 2002. After injuries disturbed his play in his senior year, he fell off the draft board. Benson was still able to land a job in the NBA development league.
From the year 2006 to the year 2010, Benson bounced around the D-League. After playing the 2010 NBA Summer League for the Utah Jazz, Benson jumped ship and took his talents to Korea where he had an immediate impact with the players and the fans.
–Benson had his own blog on Yahoo Sports titled Too Much Benson
–His Youtube channel Boom Thohas over 1 million video views
Tuesday, November 20, 2012, LG Sakers vs. Dongbu Promy
The arena in Wonju, South Korea. The home of the Dongbu Promy.
As the LG Sakers of Changwon, South Korea huddle around their head coach, it’s impossible not to notice all 6 foot 10 inches of Rod Benson.
Benson runs up and down the floor in the high tempo game that is the Korean Basketball League (KBL) and in doing so, acts as a floor general directing traffic and calling plays.
“In this league, the players tend to lose their heads a little bit, you have to put them in their place sometimes,” says Benson.
Benson, who last season earned the import player of the year says communicating with teammates (Koreans) is not as difficult as one would think.
Rod Benson says there are no language barriers in basketball.
“In basketball, the words are all the same (shoot, pass, slow down, foul etc). You just have to say it in a way that they will understand.”
It’s halftime here in Wonju, and Benson’s LG Sakers are going into the locker room with a comfortable lead over the Dongbu Promy.
The Sakers seem to run every offensive set through Benson. From posting him up down on the block to using him on high pick and rolls. Benson would go on to sit most of the third quarter and watch his team give up a 12-2 run.
The tables would turn at the two-minute mark of the third quarter when Benson checks back into the game and immediately attacks the basket, drawing a foul and getting to the line for two free throws. Benson finished the game with 18 points and five rebounds helping his LG Sakers to a convincing 93-72 win.
After the game, I caught up with Benson to get an inside look of what life is like for a foreigner inside the KBL.
Basketball Buddha: What is your game day schedule like for road games? (In this case, from Changwon to Wonju)
Benson: “We arrive a day before the game, check into a hotel. On gameday, shootaround starts in morning at around 10 a.m. until about 11 a.m. From that point, until 4 p.m. we have time to rest up. Then we get into our pre game routine.”
Basketball Buddha: What kind of salary are you getting here in Korea?
Benson: “This year, if you are a first round draft pick, you make $35,000 USD a month. If you are a second round draft pick, you make $25,000 USD a month. Bonuses are negotiated by each team, and of course I would like mine to be higher.”
Basketball Buddha: What is your fan base like here? (as we get mauled by Promy fans who can’t forget the “glory days” with Benson)
Benson: “Wonju is small, before being signed by the LG Sakers I was here playing for Dongbu for two years. We made the championship the two years that I was here so everybody knows me here. Going to the championship in both years gave me a lot of exposure. I may have one of the biggest fan bases as a foreigner in Korea.”
Benson gets fouled with one second left on the shot clock.
Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of Basketballbuddha.com.