An American-born basketball player is being kicked out of a Korean league for a peculiar reason: he’s too tall.
David Simon, the Korean Basketball League’s leading scorer this season with 25.7 points per game for Anyang KGC, is 6-foot-9. But KBL officials, trying to shake up a game that’s stagnating in attendance and ratings, have made the curious decision to restrict the height of foreign-born players to no more than two meters, or about six feet, six inches. Simon, unfortunately, is out of luck.
KBL Commissioner Kim Young-il has claimed that the league has grown stale in recent years because of a reliance on tall, plodding players; imagine an entire league crafted in the style of the late-’90s New York Knicks. By slicing off the top of the roster, a move that will knock out several American players in addition to Simon, the league hopes to emphasize smaller, faster guard play.
It’s worth noting that the ban doesn’t apply to Korean-born players, so 7-foot-3 Ha Seung-jin gets a pass. Each team can have two foreign players, one of whom can’t be taller than 6-6, the other, no taller than 6 feet.
The move is an attempt to shore up the league’s rapidly declining popularity. According to the Korea Times, average attendance has fallen from 4,372 four years ago to 2,796 today. Ratings are about one-fourth to one-third of professional volleyball.
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