Posted December. 28, 2004 23:04,
Ha Seung-jin (19, 223cm, Portland Trail Blazers) became the first Korean ever to enter the National Basketball Association (NBA).
He planned to make his debut on December 28, the day after he made his contract, against the Philadelphia 76ers. However, he was listed on the injured list right before the match. His back went out on him during training on the day before.
During an interview with a foreign correspondent, Ha said, I was little nervous during the training. My injury is not serious. I can play right now, he said as he was applying an ice pack to his injury and receiving physical therapy.
Portland expressed that there are no reasons for Ha to overstrain himself, and therefore, he will be excluded from play for about five games. Accordingly, it seems that Ha will play his debut match on January 8 against the Miami Heat, the team Shaquille O`Neal plays with.
Following NBA regulations, Ha, as a player listed on the injuries list, had to watch his teams game in the stands instead of on the bench. Although he could not play in the game, by watching NBA games firsthand, he seemed to be determined.
After the game, Ha said, Although its difficult to say much after watching just one game, I think I will not have problems adapting to the NBA. The game is very fast and centers should run well.
In a U.S. news report, the phrase seven-foot-three always follows Ha Seung-jins name. Although his height, the third tallest in the NBA, is his strength, if he is not fast enough, he wont be able to play against other flexible centers. Feeling pity over his injury, Ha said, I learned how important it is to maintain my condition.
John J. Humphreys, the coach of TG Sambo in Korean Basketball League, who used to play in NBA, said, It is important for Ha to leave a strong impression. What hes saying is that the NBA requires players who can play immediately. Huh Jae, a former basketball player who is now studying in U.S., advised, Ha is still young. There are no reasons for him to be hasty. He will need to learn lessons one by one. He will have to be able to change quickly from offense to defense, and he will need to give priority to defense and rebounding.
When Ha joined Portland, he picked No.5 as his jersey number, hoping to be the best five. Has survival race has now merely started.
Meanwhile, Portland lost to Philadelphia, 104-111 with Allen Iverson from Philadelphia scoring 28 points. In other NBA action, Miami beat the Atlanta Hawks, 116-102, with Shaquille O`Neal scoring 31 points and grabbing seven rebounds.