I came to Korea to play in the Korean Basketball League. The teaching job is just an easy to get an E2 Visa with which I can get some access to the KBL. Not really, but I did go to my first KBL game, watching the Busan KTF Magic Wings host the Seoul SK Knights.
Full Photo Album here, but please read on below
A few starter rules about the KBL; like the NBA, each game is 4 quarters long and the team with the most points at the end of the fourth quarter wins the game. Where the game differs is that the players are generally shorter, they always travel and only two players on each team may be non-Koreans (this is the primary reason for the first difference I listed above).
The Busan KTF Magic Wings are the worst team in the KBL. Thus, not only are they not that good of team if you are used to watching NBA or Men’s College Ball back in the States, they are bad on the very low KBL standards. I recognized that immediately and realized that picking apart the nuances of the KBL game was not only pointless but that in doing so, I would miss the whole point.
Brief pointless analysis on the play: the Korean guys all seem to travel a lot and not those debateable travels that require instant replay to spot. Three steps and another is not all that uncommon. The Westerners (mostly Americans) players all seem to have a few big holes in their games. On Seoul, the one guy (their jersey names are written in Hangeul, and I was a little lazy to go look them up) that shot well couldn’t dribble without looking at the ball, while the strong, post player on Busan had hands of granite. A lot of offense, not much defense, some sloppy moments.
The real point of going to a KBL game was to enjoy the cheap tickets, beer and Korean food, while getting the entertainment value from being amongst the 10 westerners in the largely empty arena (save for the fan section, more on that below) yelling and hollering at the top of your lungs, in doing so becoming the spectical of the whole event. To give you an idea of the inexpensive nature of the KBL, I sat near-courtside, enjoyed plenty of beer and some Korean food while not spending more than $25. A little cheaper than MSG.
Plenty of secondary entertainment also kept things interesting. The three mascots (the orange female one pictured above) are funny looking at all heck and the fan section cheers throughout, with their go to cheer being “BUSAN…KTF”.
A few notes about the corporate involvement in the KBL, from what I’ve been told, the teams are all owned by giant Korean companies, which use the teams as advertising. The Magic Wings are owned by Korean Telecom Freecell (KTF), whose name appears in the teams official name, which is common in Korean sports (the local baseball team is the Busan Lotte Giants, Lotte being the the name of a giant manufacturing conglomerate in Asia). The teams jerseys are NASCAR full of ads and signage space adorns the entire courtside, including immediately in front of the teams benches. The companies operate the teams not seeking to make a profit (again this is mostly what I’ve heard) but simply for promotions.
The only downer of the experience was the team store. I wanted to buy a jersey so badly and at $20, it was a must purchase. Unfortunately, XXL Korean = L slim-cut American, so I was SOL on the gear. I settled for a cap, which does not have any indicators of it coming from Korean, but still looks plenty hokey.
Enjoy the photo gallery above and send forth any questions about KBL.