“There are fans who have been watching me since I was a rookie, and there are fans who got to know me at KT at the end. Their faith and support have been the driving force for me to play until now.”
The Suwon KT Sonic Boom announced the retirement of Kim Dong-wook on Thursday. Kim, who is eligible for free agency after the 2022-2023 season, decided to end his career instead of extending his contract.
The former Korea University standout is a classic KBL second-round myth. Drafted by Samsung in the second round of the 2005 draft with the fourth overall pick, Kim has been on the court for nearly two decades. Born in 1981, Kim was the oldest player in the league last season.
As such, it’s understandable that he has mixed feelings about saying goodbye to the court. Kim Dong-wook first said, “It’s hard. I’ve been playing for so long that it’s just a strange feeling. I feel like I have a lot of emotions coming at me all at once,” he said of his retirement.
Some people expressed regret over his decision to retire, as he was still competitive on the court despite his advanced age. According to Kim, he even considered extending his career. However, after taking a break after the season, he decided to retire.
“I didn’t play much at the end of the year, but I thought I could play for another year because I wasn’t in bad shape, but when I spent time with my family and thought about it, I realized that I should just stop. When I made up my mind, I didn’t know what to do because it was my first time retiring (laughs), so as I was waiting, there were rumors that I was going to play for another team,” he laughs.
“When I heard they weren’t going to re-sign me, I thought about playing another year. When I decided to retire after thinking about it for two or three weeks, I was a little disappointed, but I’m still very happy that more time has passed. Now, when someone asks me, I can confidently say, ‘I’m retiring,'” he added.
Kim Dong-wook was once nicknamed the ‘lazy genius’. But he wouldn’t have lasted as long as he did if he were truly lazy and indolent.
“I didn’t think I’d last this long. In fact, there are not many athletes who plan to play until a certain age, and everyone just wants to play for a long time. Even I told myself when I was a rookie that if I got married and played until my mid-30s, I’d be playing for a long time. But when I won the championship in my mid-30s and my body was in good shape, I felt that I could play for a few more years, and I thought I could do more even if I went to Samsung, so here I am.”
One of the most memorable times in Kim’s long career was when he played for Orion (now Day One), where he was an integral part of coach Choo Il-seung’s forward offense and revolutionized the team’s championship run.
“I think a lot about my time at Orion, which is now history. The most memorable moment was when we won the championship game with me as the main player,” he recalled.
When asked to name his favorite coaches, he said, “First, Coach Ahn Jun-ho, who picked me in the second round and helped me find my place in the team. Coach Choo Il-seung allowed me to get the most out of my game while playing his favorite style of forward basketball. Coach Lee Sang-min was memorable because he gave me a lot of consideration to play when I was comfortable and rest when I was resting, which made me think, ‘This is what being a professional is like.
Kim Dong-wook said that he doesn’t want to be labeled with a fancy name, but he is grateful that fans remember him.
“Compared to other players, I don’t think I’m more passionate or anything like that, but I think I’d be very grateful if the fans just remembered me as ‘Kim Dong-wook the basketball player. ‘ I think I’d be grateful if they remembered me as ‘Kim Dong-wook the basketball player,'” he said.
Due to his longevity in the game, Kim had an unusually impressive number of nicknames. Some of his favorite nicknames include “Ma Wang,” short for Masan Basketball King, “Basketball Taoist” for knowing basketball, and “Pig Bron,” a reference to a chubby LeBron James. Kim Dong-wook chose Porky as his favorite nickname.
“I really like the nickname PigBron,” he said with a smile, “I think it’s a little bit of a tease, but LeBron James is the best player on the planet, so I’m satisfied that they named me after such a great player, even though the initials are different. It’s my favorite and most satisfying nickname. Honestly, I can’t compare myself to LeBron, but it feels really good to be compared to him,” he said.
Now that his playing days are over, Kim is taking a break and focusing on raising a family.
“My family first told me that I had a hard time. It’s not easy to let go, but they told me to take care of myself and have a good time. They told me to take care of myself and have a good time, because I hadn’t been able to take a long vacation for a long time,” he said.
“With the exception of a two-month break, I haven’t had a lot of time to spend with my kids. Now that I’m off, I take them to school in the morning, bring them snacks, and drive them around. Both of my kids want to do arts and crafts, but the first one is doing Korean dance and the second one is trying out for a basketball club, so I’m not sure if I’m going to let him play yet, but if he really likes basketball, I might change my mind.”
While most veteran players talk about the difficulties of raising children, Kim Dong-wook smiled and said that he found it easy because he loved playing with babies since childhood.
“It might sound funny to say this, but I think both parenting and basketball are easy because I’m older,” he said. “I’ve always liked neighborhood kids and younger friends. They play with me very well, so parenting isn’t difficult. When I was very young, it was difficult because I didn’t know much, but now I’m much older, so I’m comfortable with both.”
As for her future plans, she says, “I’ve been playing this long because I love basketball and I love it. If I get the chance, I’d like to continue working in basketball, but it’s not a given. After I take a break, I will study basketball and actively participate in activities if called upon. If given the opportunity, I would like to be able to pass on my know-how and skills to younger players, even if it’s nothing special.”먹튀검증
When asked if he was interested in commentary, he said, “I don’t know. (Laughs) It’s a job where you have to talk nonstop for two hours, but I think it’s too hard. (Jung) Young-sam and the juniors are doing it, but they say it’s really hard. It seems like a difficult job even to me. Also, you can’t make mistakes on the air. I’ll have to think about it when I get the chance.”
Finally, Kim Dong-wook thanked his fans, saying, “Some of you have been watching me since I was a rookie, and some of you met me at KT at the end. Your faith and support have been the driving force for me to play until now. I will greet you again in a good way when I have a chance in the future, so I hope you will remember and support me from afar,” he said.