Go to contents

For Coaches, Holidays Can Be Long

Posted December. 28, 2005 03:19,   


Stan Van Gundy, the coach of the NBA’s Miami Heat, suddenly retired in the middle of the season, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Van Gundy, who is married and has four children, only saw his children for a total of 49 days out of 170 days this season. “My 14-year-old daughter will leave for college in four years. I want to be there for her until that time comes,” he said.

While some may say that he retired because of Miami Heat president Pet Riley’s comeback bid as the team’s coach, it seems clear that his main reason for quitting was for the love of his family.

Van Gundy is enjoying retirement with his family: his daily activities include dropping off his kids at school and playing basketball with his son. Van Gundy’s brother Jeff coaches the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

As the season gets into full swing, basketball coaches in Korea are going through the same hardships Van Gundy did. Since basketball has become a winter sport, loneliness settles in coaches’ hearts around the holidays.

Six months of a tightly scheduled season filled with practices means many nights of staying away from home. Games are held on Christmas Day as well as the New Year’s Day, and most coaches can barely remember giving Christmas presents, let alone offering rituals to their ancestors.

Samsung’s manager Jo Seung-yeon calls this the “karma of basketball.”

Some coaches are choosing to send their wives and children overseas in response. Since reality does not permit you to stay together with the family anyway, why not use it as a chance to provide a better education for your children by sending them to study abroad?

Many basketball families live in Yongin City, Gyeonggi Province. The reason for this is five out of 10 pro clubs are lodged in Yongin. Many coaches want to see their families as soon as training is over.

The Korean Pro Basketball League celebrates its 10th anniversary next year. Not much seems to have improved for basketball people compared to the league’s amateur days, but coaches get the strength to endure one more day from the cheers of the crowd. We wish them a happy New Year.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com