KBA should explain why coach Lim was let go

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KBA should explain why coach Lim was let go

The basketball season in Korea is now in the offseason, but the women’s league is still making headlines.

Two weeks ago, fans were shocked when they heard the Shinsegae Coolcat lost its sponsorship when its mother company declared it will no longer support the team.

More sad news followed when KB Stars forward Jung Sun-min, who is the first woman to play in the WNBA with the Seattle Storm in 2003, announced her retirement last week.

The 38-year-old forward is considered a legend in Korea. She has a total of nine championship rings (four with the Coolcat and five with the Shinhan Bank S-birds), and has won the Most Valuable Player award seven times. As a matter of fact, she is the all-time top scorer in the WKBL with 8,140 points.

But what made the most noise in the women’s basketball world last week was the appointment of the new national team coach.

While Anyang Korea Ginseng Corporation coach Lee Sang-beom was named as the men’s national basketball team coach, the Korea Basketball Association (KBA) seemed to have trouble with announcing the women’s coach, which seemed a little strange to fans because Lim Dal-shik, the S-birds’ coach, was having a good run with the team.

Lim, 48, has been leading the national team since 2009, while taking his club S-birds to achieve six consecutive seasons for a double crown (winning both the regular season and championship series).

He guided the national team to the quarterfinals at the FIBA World Championships in the Czech Republic in 2010, while taking the silver medal in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, as well as two second-place finishes in the FIBA Asian Championship behind powerhouse China.

While most thought Lim would regroup the national team and lead the squad at the 2012 London Olympics, the KBA announced last Wednesday that it will appoint Samsung Life Bichumi coach Lee Ho-keun as the new coach.

There was nothing wrong with naming Lee as the new coach, but what made fans furious and suspicious is that the KBA board didn’t give a plausible explanation as to why Lim was axed after promising performances with the national team. Lim even told reporters that although he doesn’t care that he is now without the national team job, he wants to know the reason for his dismissal.

The KFA later said that the team needed fresh air and questioned why the team did not win the Asian Championship last year. But it turns out that there was a power dispute inside the KBA during a process of naming a new women’s national team coach.

According to local media reports, some KBA board members had conflicts with Lim in the past and actively opposed him taking charge of the national team again. It was reported that those board members had asked Lim to hire one of their people as an assistant coach in the past, but Lim rejected the proposal. The relationship between the two sides became fragile.

If this is true, it is another bad example of personal greed and politics that have again spoiled the sport’s promising future.

Even new coach Lee recently said that the situation isn’t helping him at all. Both Lim and Lee are known to be very close friends off the court, but it seems the odd administration from the KBA has put both of them in an awkward spot.

From June 25 to July 1 in Ankara, Turkey, Korea will have to enter the Olympic qualifying playoffs with 11 other teams. In this event, 12 teams will be divided into four groups of three and fight for five passes to London. Korea is in Group C with Croatia (No. 31) and Mozambique (No. 37).

The women’s basketball team, ranked No. 9 in the world, is looking for a fifth consecutive appearance in the Olympics. However, it seems that the unhealthy KBA administration has already affected the start of the Games.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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