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For Kim, it’s been all about the struggle

Basketball pro wants to be remembered for giving it all he had
Mar 21,2017
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Kim Joo-sung of the Dongbu Wonju Promy hopes to play another season before he retires from the KBL next year. [KIM JIN-KYUNG]
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Since Kim Joo-sung first made his professional debut in the Korean Basketball League (KBL) in 2002, he has been with the Wonju Dongbu Promy.

He set many records and is continuing to make more as he is playing in his 15th season in the KBL.

In 2015, he exceeded 1,000 blocks, marking him the first player to do so in the KBL.

In rebounds, he is ranked second with 4,313, behind Seo Jang-hoon’s 5,235.

With his accomplishments, Kim is now aiming for another record - 10,000 scoring points.

As of now, Kim is only 14 points away from reaching 10,000 points. Only two players, Seo Jang-hoon and Choo Seung-kyun, have ever gotten passed 10,000 scoring points in the KBL.

“In my 16-year professional career, I haven’t really looked at records because if I did well, I probably would have lost my mentality but if I was doing poorly, I would have been disappointed in myself,” Kim said. “Since I’m not an offensive player, I always focused on rebounds and defense. So I never thought about the 10,000 scoring points record.”

While Kim was with Promy, the team won three playoff series in 2003, 2005 and 2008. In this season, the Promy is hoping to advance to the playoff series by finishing fifth in the regular season.

Although Kim stands at 2.05 meters (6 feet 8 inches), prior to his professional debut in 2002, coaches had different opinions as some saw potential in him and others did not.

“This made me work harder,” Kim said. “It’ll be hard to break Seo’s scoring average record, but I want to exceed the record of 10,019 scoring points set by Choo Seung-kyun, manager of Jeonju KCC Egis.”

Since Kim has to compete against foreign players under the goal net, he built strength and improved on his mid-range shots this season. At the same time, he plays through injuries. Last season, Kim tore the ligament on his left knee and sprained his right toe.

“At the time, I was scared that I might of had to retire like this,” Kim said. “Interestingly, on game days, my back and my knee don’t hurt.”

Kim started basketball late in his freshman year of high school. When he plays basketball, he always thinks of his family. His mother suffers from the late effects of polio and his father suffers from leg problems.

“When I was in middle school, our family lived in a single room in Haeundae, Busan,” Kim said. “I had no time to think about anything other than basketball.”

Kim recently read a number of negative comments under articles about himself regarding his frequent physical contact with foreign players and his complaints to referees.

“As a captain, I am the one who makes complaints to the referees, which frequently leads to misunderstanding,” Kim said. “I’m planning on playing one more season before retiring. Until then, I want to show my fans a good performance.”

Kim, who played for the Korean national team since his freshman year in college, has played for the national team for 17 years and is the only basketball player in Korea to win two gold medals at the Asian Games in 2002 and 2014.

“Including the national team games, there was a time when I played in more than 70 games per year,” Kim said.

Of the many basketball games Kim played in, he picked the final match against China at the 2002 Asian Games as the most memorable game he has played, saying it was his hardest.

“I may not have had a brilliant career as a basketball player but I want to be remembered as a player who did all the hard work for the team,” Kim said.

BY PARK LIN [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]