Kim Sang-sik, head coach of the professional basketball team Anyang KGC Ginseng Corporation, has had a shadowy career in the game for more than three decades. His father’s footprints as a player, coach, and administrator were large and deep. He was far from a winner as a player, and he was rejected repeatedly as a coach.

But he finally smiled. The first year he cleared his mind and started from scratch, he stood at the top of his game. Not once, but three times, he led his team to the top. As an individual, he was honored as the league’s best coach. He passed through the narrow gates of the championship and etched his name into Korean basketball history.

Mugwan’s mobile missile, the flower of Anyang

During his playing days, Kim’s nickname was “Mobile Missile. After graduating from Korea University, he played in the unemployment league and early professional basketball, where he was known for his precision outside shooting. In 1997, the first year of the actual KBL league, he was a dominant force for the Gwangju Nasan, scoring 20.3 points per game. That was good enough for the fourth best player in Korea.

But it was far from the best. Neither as an individual nor as a team. He hadn’t won a championship since he turned pro, let alone during his time at IBK, which was a weak league. In his seven seasons with Nasan and Anyang SBS, he never even made it to the championship game.

After his retirement, he thought he would start the second act of his life with coaching training, but it was not easy. In fact, the number and severity of setbacks were worse than during his playing days. In his professional career, he was an acting head coach three times. Only once, in the 2008-2009 season, was he actually promoted to head coach, and even then, he didn’t last a full season before resigning due to poor results. The same fate befell the national team. He became the national team coach on an acting basis, but was removed from the position on the same day as Noonan himself after a dispute over player selection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change began last year. He was thinking about leaving the game and returning to the wilderness when KGC asked him to meet with them. Parting ways with the coach who led the team’s rebirth, KGC decided to give Kim the reins.

The result, as everyone knows, was a huge success. Despite the departure of main gun Jeon Seong-hyun, KGC dominated and went wire-to-wire (first place from start to finish) to win the regular league. They also won the East Asian Super League (EASL) title while playing a rigorous schedule, and finally won the championship game.

In an interview with Kookmin Ilbo on March 13, Kim recalled the emotional moment like it was yesterday. “At first, I was dazed, but then I realized that the coaches were crying. The process of leaving the (national) team and everything that had happened flashed through my head one after another. I thought it was someone else’s story, but it was happening to me. I couldn’t believe it, and the next day I asked my wife if it was real.”

‘My fault’ won out

Kim’s gentle leadership was the talk of the town last season. In front of the cameras, he refrained from yelling, and in tactical meetings, he emphasized the positives over the negatives. “Let’s do what we’re good at,” was his mantra.

He said this approach to coaching was a lesson he learned from a season of adversity. “Usually, when I take over as a substitute coach, the players are afraid. The team is in a bad situation, and they often wonder if the previous coach left because of them.” “I decided to encourage and praise them rather than scold them,” he explained.

His concern for his players’ personalities was matched by his concern for their performance. “In practice, I point out a lot of things,” he says, “and sometimes it’s not easy to suppress them. Sometimes it’s not easy to suppress it,” he said, adding, “The players are adults, and it would be embarrassing if they were scolded in front of the fans.” “I don’t think there’s one right way to coach. I just tried this (gentle) approach once and it worked,” he said.

His choice was similar when it came to personal struggles. Kim was known as the “son of Kim Young-ki” from his playing days. It wasn’t easy to escape the shadow of his father, who was a star in the 1960s Ilsan League and had a storied career as a national coach. What’s more, his father served as the KBL’s governor during Kim’s final years and after his retirement.

It would have been easy for him to be resentful of the situation, but he said the opposite. He didn’t blame others, so he didn’t miss the opportunity that came his way. “When I was acting head coach, I thought, ‘It’s all because I’m not good enough,’ and that led me to the conclusion that I should try harder,” Kim said.

When asked what the father and son talked about right after the win, Kim said, “They said, ‘Thank you for your hard work. We’re not the chicken-and-egg type,” he says with a wry smile. “I heard from my mom that (my dad) was very happy because he had been feeling sorry for me,” he added.

The first time again

The time to bask in the glow of victory was short-lived. Before the sweat could dry on the court, there was a series of farewells for the main players. Captain Yang Hee-jong retired from active duty and Byun Joon-hyung enlisted in the military. The franchise stars Oh Se-geun and Moon Sung-gon, who were the pillars of the offense and defense, respectively, chose to transfer. Jung Hyo-geun Choi Sung-won and Lee Jong-hyun were brought in, but objectively, the losses outweighed the gains. Instead of a championship gift for the best performing coach, he was persecuted.

It would be easy to blame him, but Kim didn’t. He started by jokingly saying, “Isn’t replacing a coach supposed to be done when things are bad?” He then went on to praise his new disciples. “Jung Hyo-geun, Choi Sung-won, and Lee Jong-hyun are all good players. Lee Jong-hyun contacted me with the idea that he would be the last. I told him to show me, not just tell me.”먹튀검증

He said ‘first time’. “I’m going to go back to the beginning and work hard. I don’t think my approach will change much. I’m not going to change the atmosphere of the team just because there’s a new player. I’m going to do what I set out to do.”

Many experts have labeled KGC as the team with the biggest drop-off in power at the end of the free agency period. Kim himself has set a goal of reaching the top six in the new season. In fact, even before last season, KGC was not a favorite to win the title. The transfer of Jeon Sung-hyun weakened the team, and the general consensus was that they were a mid-table team.

A year later, most of the faces on the roster have changed, but one thing remains the same: Kim’s leadership. He is the key to KGC’s dream of a dramatic season once again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *