Orions' Heo Il-young does his best on and off the court

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Orions' Heo Il-young does his best on and off the court

Goyang Orion Orions basketball player Heo Il-young makes a shot at Goyang Gymnasium in Goyang, Gyeonggi. [KIM SEONG-RYONG]

Goyang Orion Orions basketball player Heo Il-young makes a shot at Goyang Gymnasium in Goyang, Gyeonggi. [KIM SEONG-RYONG]

 
Goyang Orion Orions' forward Heo-Il young is a man of many titles, known for his actions both on and off the basketball court.
 
Heo has been playing for the Orions since 2009, except for his time in the military when he played for the military team, Sangmu.
  
With the exception of his teammate Kim Kang-sun, most of his colleagues who entered during the 2009 KBL rookies draft have retired. Heo will become a free agent after finishing this season.
 
"I want to play until I'm 40 years old if possible," Heo said. "My pride was hurt when I heard 'He's not good anymore because he's old,' or 'He has regressed.' Then I thought to myself, 'How can I possibly make all the shots?' and when I took my mind off my worries, my scores got better."
 
Wearing a headband, Heo runs around the court with his long hair. When the league was suspended in January last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, he underwent an ankle surgery and started to grow his hair as it was difficult to visit the barbershop. His teammate Lee Dae-sung also started growing out his hair after seeing Heo.
 
Goyang Orion Orions' head coach Kang Eul-jun often calls Heo Il-young a "breeze," a compliment meaning Heo plays calm and steady.
 
"He also tells me to 'keep blowing,'" Heo said. "My head coach is a master of metaphor."
 
The original "silent but strong man" was Choo Seung-kyun, a player who played for Jeonju KCC and is now retired.
 
"I faced Choo when I was a rookie, and he scored 15-20 points without a sound. His defense was firm," said Heo. "It is an honor for me to get compared to such a [great] person."
 
Heo also has the nickname "Heorabola," which is a portmanteau of his last name Heo and the word "parabola."
 
He surpassed 600 three-point shots in his personal career, and the trace of his shots draw a parabola like NBA star Stephen Curry.
 
The left-handed shooter shoots with his arms up to his head. His launch angle is over 50 degrees.
 
"I used to be a center in high school but changed to a shooter after I went to university. I increased the RBI to avoid the opponent's block shot. Some players tried to copy me and their posture got ruined. Lee Jae-do [of Anyang KGC] is one, but he now shoots better than me."
 
Heo also consistently gives back to others through various donations.
 
Heo earned another title, the "three-point shooter of love." For every three-point shot this season, he will donate 30,000 won ($27) to support children with incurable diseases. So far, he has accumulated 1.5 million won by succeeding 50 shots.
 
He also donated the money from his son's first birthday party in 2018 to help children with terminal illnesses, and last year, he donated the profits made from selling uniforms through social media.
 
A father of a son and daughter, Heo said, "I was heartbroken when I saw poor children on TV. I wanted to be of help even if it wasn't a big amount. [Lee] Dae-sung said he would make passes to me to fill 100 shots, but I've only made 50 as of now. I am planning to make a donation with my own money."
 
The Goyang Orion Orions was the winner of the 2015–16 KBL Championship, but plunged to the last place last season.
 
"I've been from the bottom to the top," said Heo. "My goal this season was to advance to the playoffs."
 
"In fact, as long as we're in the top six, I don't think ranking is very meaningful. No. 4 Samsung Life Blueminx in women's basketball also pulled off an upset. We will go up as high as we can," Heo said.
 
BY PARK RIN, SEO JI-EUN   [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]
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