Davon Jefferson stretches team patience to breaking point
Some basketball players sing along to the national anthem in South Korea, others stand in stony-faced silence, trying keep emotions in check. Changwon LG`s U.S. import Davon Jefferson chose to stretch and limber up. Big mistake.
SEOUL: Some basketball players sing along to the national anthem in South Korea, others stand in stony-faced silence, trying keep emotions in check. Changwon LG`s U.S. import Davon Jefferson chose to stretch and limber up. Big mistake.
Jefferson was kicked to the curb by the Korean Basketball League team on Friday after the 6 foot 5 inch (1.99m) American sparked a backlash from fans in the build-up to Wednesday`s KBL playoff game against Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.
The 28-year-old was accused of not showing the proper respect during the anthem and the Sakers said they had decided to cut him loose as it was the latest in a series of incidents involving the league`s top scorer.
"The fans are the most important people to the team," an LG official told Reuters on Friday, "And when the fans turned their backs on Jefferson, the team chose to kick him out."
The American had appeared at a news conference on Thursday trying to limit the damage.
"I did not ignore Korean culture or any culture at all," Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying. "I just felt pain while the Korean national anthem was playing, so I did some stretching."
However, it later emerged that Jefferson had posted a photo of himself making an obscene gesture on a social networking site right before the news conference, causing some to question his sincerity.
The LG official said the team had had to make a swift decision ahead of the second game in the series against Ulsan later on Friday and that they would be sorry to lose a player of his talent.
The official was also keen to stress that the player`s nationality had played no part in the decision and that the team had no issues with their other American player, Chris Massie.
The Sakers later said in a statement that Jefferson had, "disappointed not only the fans but the nation as a whole and he had damaged the LG team`s honour".
Sakers General Manager Kim Wan-tae offered his deepest apologies for the "disgraceful incident" and said that while Jefferson`s absence would hamper their title chances, the Sakers would fight until the very end to repay the fans.
The KBL said it had planned to announce measures against Jefferson but league official Lee Su-jin told Reuters that since the Sakers had already cut him, the KBL would schedule another meeting to discuss the incident.