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“Import Strategies” Getting Out of Hand

Posted March. 14, 2005 22:10,   


Are the imports lottery tickets?

On March 11, a day before the closing of the 2004-2005 Anycall Pro Basketball regular season, the KTF Magicwings suddenly announced that one of the team’s imports, Gabe Muoneke, would be replaced with Kaniel Dickens, because Muoneke’s left knee injury worsened, making impossible for him to play in the playoffs.

The Daegu Orions replaced both of their imports as well. Chris Porter joined the team on February 23 in place of the injured MC Mazique, and Nate Johnson rejoined on March 9 after a period of absence due to an injury.

This is the so-called golden age of the imports. When the SBS Stars went on a winning streak since Dontae Jones joined the team in the middle of the season, the other teams were busy changing their players as well.

Replacements are particularly frequent this season. As of March 14, 20 foreign players have been replaced, which is two times more than that of last season (10 replacements, excluding rejected contracts).

According to KBL rules, only two replacements of foreign players are allowed for reasons not involving injury, such as poor ability. However, there are no limits for replacing players whose injuries last more than eight weeks. Last season, only three imports from three teams were replaced for reasons excluding injury, but this season 13 players from nine teams were replaced.

However since there is no limit this year to the number of foreign players who can be replaced, the teams have all been trying out players and replacing them with another player as soon as they are deemed unfit. This shows how much the dependence for imports has grown this season.

There are restrictions, of course—from the fifth round, foreign players cannot be replaced unless an injury occurs. However, this is almost an ostrich policy. There are enough loopholes to evade the rules. Since the Stars released Joe Bunn because of his injury and brought in Jones, all other teams are eying the Stars with both envy and suspicion.

One team official said, “The trust that has been growing among the teams for eight years is breaking down, and suspicions are prevalent among the teams,” adding, “Since the dependency on the foreign players is too great and the teams are competing to replace their imports, many are considering a reduction in the number of foreign players in a team.”

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com