After shaky start, Orions look to Kim as their savior

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After shaky start, Orions look to Kim as their savior

The Daegu Orions are desperately seeking to change their losing ways. Having replaced their head coach during the offseason, they are sick of hanging out in the league cellar, and reversing this trend is the only thing that matters to the team at this point.

The Orions wound up dead last in league standings the past two seasons and now face the possibility of setting an all-time KBL futility record by finishing at the bottom for a third consecutive year.

To help get the team back on track, Orions officials have reportedly asked the league to reinstate point guard Kim Seung-hyun, who is currently serving an 18-game suspension. And there is speculation that the KBL just might shorten the suspension.

The origin of the suspension can be traced back to the humid summer months in the offseason. Kim and the Orions were embroiled in a nasty dispute over a double contract. The two sides could not agree on a salary amount for the current season, and the Orions filed with the KBL for salary arbitration. The league favored the team and settled on the amount of 600 million won ($469,200). The incident escalated into a bitter dispute when the team began to portray Kim in the media as a greedy player looking to nail down a contract for 720 million won despite missing a considerable amount of playing time due to injury.

At that point, Kim came out and spoke openly, denying that he demanded the high sum and revealing that the team offered to pay him an additional sum under the table. Even his father got into the act, threatening to provide the contract to the media if necessary. The catfight - minus the scratching - got to the point where Kim said he would rather retire than play for the Orions again. In return, team officials openly stated that they did not need a player like Kim!

But it’s amazing how quickly two losses to start the season can mend a burned bridge and transform enemies into long-lost friends.

“In the past two seasons, we have finished [last] in league standings. At this rate, we are in danger of placing last again this season,” Shim Yong-seob, the Orions’ director of operation, was quoted as saying in the JoongAng Ilbo. “In the history of the KBL, no team has placed last in three consecutive seasons. We need Kim Seung-hyun to return to our team as soon as possible.”

What is amazing, or ridiculous, about all of this is that the request came two games into the season. Either the people in charge of running the Orions are the most impatient group or they had been waiting around for a bad start to make their case. In a 54-game season, the Orions dropped the first two games of the season by an average of 17 points. A wide margin, for sure. But now the team is acting as if their season is coming to an end.

Not everyone on the squad, however, is so pessimistic. Kim Nam-ki, the former head coach of the national team who was hired during the offseason to lead the Orions, spoke about playing defensive basketball and strong teamwork to get over the hump until Kim returns to the lineup.

On a more positive note, the Orions managed to pull off their first win of the season against the Samsung Thunders by a score of 85-80 on Wednesday night. Perhaps life isn’t so bad for the Orions after all.

By Jason KIM []
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