Really, Sakers are better off without him

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Really, Sakers are better off without him

Last weekend, Korea’s basketball community was in an uproar about former Changwon LG Sakers forward Davon Jefferson, who stretched during the national anthem prior to the Korean Basketball League (KBL) playoff game against Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.

Article 25-3 of the KBL rules states that players should stand in a row while the anthem is played. Jefferson clearly violated the rule.

But what probably angered fans was the 28-year-old American didn’t show proper respect to fans, the club and Korean basketball.

This why the Sakers dumped him, and it was a good decision.

Although Jefferson, who previously played in Israel and Russia, apologized, many doubted his sincerity. Before his press conference, the forward posted obscene photos and words on social network services.

Jefferson was the league’s No.1 scorer this season, averaging 22 points per game, but the Sakers are a more solid, unified team without him.

Without their top offensive threat, many might have predicted the Sakers would be swamped by regular season champion Pheobus in the best-of-five KBL semifinals. After all, the Sakers, which finished fourth during the season, have played nine games in 16 days.

Yet the series is tied, 2-2, with the decisive Game 5 tonight.

After leveling the series, the Sakers coach, Kim Jin, said his players may be may be tired, but they have come together as a team since Jefferson’s departure.

Jefferson isn’t the only foreign athlete who has caused trouble in Korea. In fact, his transgression was pretty light compared to some others.

For Korean sports clubs, there is always a dilemma when picking foreign players. Some have top skills, but lack good personality, and vice-versa.

In 2006-7 season, Pervis Pasco, who also played for the Sakers, assaulted a referee for his call and was banned from the league for life. In the 2009/10 season, Ivan Johnson of the Jeonju KCC Egis, also received a lifetime ban after verbally abusing referee and making an obscene gesture with his finger.

In other sports, Luke Scott was sent packing by the SK Wyverns last year after reportedly calling manager Lee Man-soo a “liar” and “coward.” Scott, who had 135 career home runs for the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles in Major League Baseball, was shown the door the day after his verbal abuse.

For coaches, how they choose and manage foreign players can be a crucial factor in how their teams perform throughout the season.

But in sports, there is a saying: “No player is better than the team and the team doesn’t exist without fans.”

Davon Jefferson is just the latest player to prove that point.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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