From the six-year cycle theory leading to Kang Dong-hee, Lee Sang-min, Kim Seung-hyun, and Kim Tae-sul, to Joo Hee-jeong, Shin Ki-seong, and Yang Dong-geun. In Korean basketball, many point guards have continued their genealogy. Now, ‘Flash Sun’ Kim Seon-hyung (35, 187cm) is following them. Maybe it will be remembered as a legend that receives higher evaluation in the future. I looked back on the basketball life of Kim Sun-hyeong, who overcame a terrible injury and subsequent slump and became MVP again, with the name ‘KIM SUN HYUNG’.
※This article was published in the May issue of Jump Ball, a professional basketball magazine.
Return of the KING IS BACK_MVP
It took 10 full years to win the 2nd regular league MVP trophy. Kim Seon-hyung, who was selected as MVP in the second year of his debut and announced the birth of a rising star, is still in his prime, showing off his competitiveness against guards in his 20s even in his mid-30s. He was also named as the 5th domestic player of all time to have won two regular league MVPs and one final MVP award after Lee Sang-min, Seo Jang-hoon, Kim Joo-seong, and Yang Dong-geun. It is no exaggeration to say that he stands shoulder to shoulder with legends.
“I was very nervous. The moment I was called MVP, the first thing I thought was ‘Ah, I’m finally getting it again’. The situation is different from when I received my first MVP. At that time, the team played an overwhelming regular league, so people around me kept saying, ‘You’ll get it’, but not this time. My mindset was also different. In the past, I just wanted to work hard and have fun, but as I got older, I felt a sense of responsibility and more things I needed to pay attention to. The responsibility for being the MVP of the finals last season was greater than the responsibility for the title of ‘salary king’. As much as that, the expectations of those around me would have risen. On the one hand, there was a sense of pressure, but even looking back on it, I am happy that I made the most memorable season. It is an honor to continue the record that only legends have achieved, but we must not rest on our laurels. They are great seniors, but I want to create my own story. I will continue to run.”
INJURY_5 hours that felt like 5
days October 17, 2017. On the day when Seoul SK played just the second game after the opening of the 2017-2018 season, Kim Seon-hyeong suffered a terrible injury. Diagnosed with a torn lateral ligament in his right ankle and a partial fracture of the peach bone, Kim Sun-hyung was immediately put on the operating table and underwent a long rehabilitation. He returned at the end of the season and tasted his first championship win in his debut, but his performance was incomparable to before the injury. Although suffering from aftereffects for a while, Kim Seon-hyeong regained his prime after many years of perseverance. He was in his mid-thirties and he wrote a drama that made a new career high.
“If I had a lot of injuries, I would have accepted it calmly, but it was the first time I had such a big injury. The 5 hours going up from Ulsan to Seoul felt like 5 days. When I received surgery for the first time, I was worried, ‘Will I be able to run again?’ It gave me an opportunity to realize how precious it is to run healthy. The surgery itself went well, but there was a problem with my skin. There was a risk of skin necrosis due to poor blood circulation in the area where the bone broke through the skin and where the scalpel was torn. Then he said it would take more than a year to come back. He couldn’t rehabilitate his ankle angle for a while because his skin shouldn’t be irritated. He returned at the end of the season, but it took a toll over the next two years or so. Because the angle of his ankle didn’t come out. There are no aftereffects at all now. I don’t feel the aftermath of my injury and I don’t even get sick on rainy days.”
MOMENTUM_Knights stronger in crisis
SK’s 2022-2023 season was also dramatic. SK, who entered the season amidst variables such as weakening power and injuries, only recorded 2 wins and 6 losses in the first round, but from the second round, they joined the ranks fight in earnest. At the end of the season, Choi Jun-yong was injured again, but SK took advantage of the crisis. In the middle of the 5th round, they played 6 games in 9 days, and even managed a forced march to Japan by participating in the EASL (East Asia Super League), but SK became rather stronger. In the last 18 games, including a 6-round winning streak, the team recorded 16 wins and 2 losses, making it to the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive season in the team’s history, escaping from the stigma of ‘roller coaster’.
“At the beginning of the season, the team faltered. (Ahn) Young-Jun enlisted, and (Choi) Seong-Won was before being discharged. (Choi) Jun-yong was also out due to an injury. It took time for the rest of the players to adjust, so I think there was trial and error. We won the match in the 6th round, but the atmosphere in the team was getting better even before we went to Japan. With the addition of EASL runner-up, the confidence of the players increased. I felt that ‘We are competitive’ and ‘Even if someone falls into a difficult situation, we can do it if we have the will.’ Of course, it would be a lie if I said there was no physical strain. It was difficult every game because of the forced marches, but I think I learned when to use my strength on the court and when to save it. I heard you set a new record for the most home wins in the playoffs. We are stronger at home and we have a lot of pride. I felt that the fans cheered more happily during the playoffs, so I gained a lot of strength.”
SPEED_Gives Wings to Fast Attack
SK’s team color is fast attack, as they have been in first place for the past three seasons in a row. If you extend the range to the 2017-2018 season, which achieved V2, there has never been a season that has been pushed out of third place. Since the 2011-2012 season when Kim Seon-hyung joined, the 2016-2017 season is the only season in which the fast break was ranked less than 5th. During the 5 seasons prior to joining Kim Seon-hyung, SK’s speedy attack was 5th – 5th – 10th – 5th – 7th. It may be unreasonable to say that it is only Kim Seon-hyung’s strength, but Kim Seon-hyung is an unrivaled player in terms of mobility. It is clear that Kim Seon-hyung was a player who clearly presented the direction for SK, which had a long dark period.
“I haven’t measured the 100m accurately, but I think it will come out around 12 or 13 seconds. Actually, I’m not a fast runner (?). There are many players who run faster than me, but I feel like I feel fast because there is not much difference between my normal speed and dribbling. I’m grateful to receive good reviews for my quick-breaking ability, but rather than a comparison like ‘better than anyone else’, it felt better to hear that I was ‘unrivaled in this style’. (If you have any know-how when trying to speed up or break through?) I have my own navigation. It’s a navigation that only I can use, so I don’t know how to explain it… . Just when a situation arises, it seems that the input value comes out saying, ‘If you turn right at this point and turn left there, you will score’ (laughs).”
UNLESS_What if it wasn’t for SK?
The 2011 rookie draft that Kim Sun-hyung participated in was called the ‘Oh Se-geun Draft’. Oh Se-geun was a promising prospect who was evaluated as a big man who could easily take responsibility for 10 years with overwhelming power and a so-called BQ. Regarding the second ranking, the evaluation was mixed. Kim Seon-hyeong was also the main player who brought Chung-Ang University to its heyday along with Oh Se-geun, but Choi Jin-soo, who was the youngest national player, was also a forward with high potential. As a result, SK valued Kim Sun-hyeong more highly and entrusted him with the future of the team. SK’s selection was a great success.
“(Oh) Se-geun hyung was the unrivaled number one candidate. Even if I were the manager, Se-geun would have picked hyung. I was greedy for the second place. I wanted to show that ‘Segeun hyung is acknowledged, then I am’. Thankfully, SK picked me up in second place, and I stepped onto the podium with light steps. So I think he’s been paying back well for over 10 years (laughs). The thing that bothered me the most during my second free agency was the Jamsil Student Gymnasium. I thought it would be too awkward to use this as an away player. We also received many calls from fans asking us not to leave, but the announcement was delayed due to fine-tuning. I was so grateful that the fans said, ‘I can’t imagine SK without Kim Sun-hyung’.”
NUMBER_“It would be an honor if you do it forever.”
It’s not the uniform number I wanted first, but the number 5 has become inseparable from Kim Sun-hyung. Kim Seon-hyung once conducted a talent donation related to number 5. In 2016, among elite middle and high school players in Seoul, the hometown of SK, promising players wearing the number 5 were invited and passed on their proprietary breakthrough and dribbling skills. After the event, he had time to enjoy a sauna and meal with the players at his own expense. If I retire from SK, wouldn’t a permanent retirement be a planned step? We listened to Kim Seon-hyeong’s honest thoughts about the background of wearing the number 5 and the permanent absence.
He said, “When he entered Chung-Ang University, something unusual happened. The coach gave the first year students a choice, so they could choose number 9, and they could use it all four years. There was no particular reason, but it looked the best among the remaining numbers. When he joined SK, Heejung and his older brother were wearing number 9. The only thing left is number 5, which was number 7 that (Bang) Sungyoon hyung used, but number 7 is a number that suits a shooter. That’s why (Byun) Ki-hoon wears number 7 and I wear number 5. I wore number 6 in high school, but I’m not the type to pay much attention to numbers. I thought it was more important to quickly adapt to the profession rather than numbers. It would be nice if you could do it forever. I think it would be an honor. Director Moon, I thought, ‘What if my name gets caught there too?’
HONEY_“Can I brag about my wife for over an hour?”
In May 2017, Kim Seon-hyung married Seok Hae-ji, who had been dating for about two years. Prior to the wedding, after the last home game of the 2016-2017 season, he sang Lee Seung-gi’s “Will you marry me?” and made a surprise proposal, showing off his “lover” side. Seonhyung Kim has been through many adversities with Seok Haeji. Seok Hae-ji, who took care of Kim Seon-hyung with a terrible ankle injury right after her marriage, has been with her in both slumps and triumphs since. He once spoke outright about the mid-range jumper, which was Kim Seon-hyung’s weakness. She said, “Ever since the beginning of her relationship, she talked about needing a mid-range jumper, but then I didn’t accept it because of my pride. Floater, I thought a 3-point shot was enough.” Correspondence to Kim Seon-hyung. Is that why? Seok Hae-ji was the last person Kim Seon-hyeong climbed to the highest position and shouted.
“The regular league MVP is the most honorable award. I wanted to call out my wife’s name from the highest seat. The first time I saw my wife was October 31, 2015. There was a person with a light on his forehead on the street, so I approached him first. I went there while doing the Eurostep (laughs). I prepared a public proposal because I like it. I thought about a few songs, but it seemed like the atmosphere would go down if I sang ballads. I was good at selecting songs, but I couldn’t sing well because I was in a very difficult state after the game. It takes more than an hour to brag about my wife. If I had to pick one, she grew up receiving a lot of love, so she gave me a lot of love too. He is a person who thinks of others first and knows how to be considerate. There are people who look down on taxi drivers and service workers. My wife is very respectful and treats her people. Not to mention she’s my assistant. She has never done housework during the season. She says ‘she has to keep her hands feeling’ and she never makes it. I am so grateful to her for taking care of me so that I can fully focus on basketball. We are one in heart. Seonhyung Kim becomes Seok, and Haeji Seok becomes Sunhyung Kim. I’ll stop bragging about it because of time (laughs).”
YOUTH_ “Thank you, father.”
Kim Seon-hyung had a talent for soccer when he was young. He enjoyed playing football for about two years at the youth club, but soon he lost interest. It was in the 6th grade of elementary school that Kim Seon-hyung got involved with basketball. His father, who recognized his talent while playing basketball on the playground, took him to Songdo Middle School, a prestigious basketball club. Kim Seon-hyung, who passed the test, entered the path of a basketball player by training with Song Do-jung players from the summer vacation of 6th grade. As a person involved in the basketball world, he expresses his gratitude to Kim Seon-hyung’s father. thank you!
“I liked soccer enough to wake up in the morning and watch the World Cup. I vividly remember Korea losing 0-5 to the Netherlands at the 1998 World Cup in France. I was hoping to score at least one goal, but a player from the opposing team named Bergkamp was very good. He was my role model when I was playing soccer. My team often enjoys soccer, but I play soccer like basketball. It’s the style of getting out of the way and scoring goals. I’ve been playing basketball since I was young, but I wasn’t a ranked player until my sophomore year of high school. It was a style that suddenly popped out when I was in my senior year of high school. (If you go back to your childhood?) Shouldn’t you practice shooting a little more? However, if I had spent more time practicing shooting, I would have spent less time practicing breaking through. You can’t have it all. I think young players should never learn skill training with the mindset of ‘I want to do something flashy’. The layup, dribble, and defense-breaking skills that I upgraded through skill training were based on the basic skills I had accumulated through countless efforts before that. I graduated from Songdo High School, which emphasizes basic skills, so I came to the pros after having some basic skills, and my personal skills were maximized while receiving skill training here. You just need to have the basics in place.”
UPGRADE_ It took 12 years to win a sweeter 1st place
Kim Seon-hyung recorded an average of 6.8 assists in the regular league and ranked first. It was his first achievement in the 12th year of his debut. Kim Seon-hyeong was the player who took the longest to reach the top spot for his first assist. His previous record was Joo Hee-jung’s 10th season. If Joo Hee-jeong stayed in second place for a long time, pushed by Lee Sang-min and Kim Seung-hyun, Kim Seon-hyeong took time to broaden his horizons. In the second year of his debut season, which took on the role of No. 1 in earnest, he only recorded 2.9 assists. His all-season double-double 11 times, overturned public opinion. He has recorded 24 double-doubles in his career, so he has set a figure of nearly half this season. He also became the first player ever to record three consecutive double-doubles in scoring and assists in the playoffs.
“I tried to look wider on the court. Knowing when to hit fast and when to slow down, I think it naturally widened his horizons and made his teammates more visible. These days, basketball feels more fun. Of course, he didn’t know a lot when he first took on the number one. It’s difficult for him to know when to attack and when to coordinate. After gaining experience through trial and error, I now know the timing. I think the assisting ability has also been upgraded as I assemble the players while specifying their positions.”
NICK NAME_ Ceremony worn by ‘Flash Sun’
Recently, nicknames such as ‘Kim Seon-hyung, born in 1998’ and ‘Rookie Award Candidate’ have emerged, but the first nickname that comes to mind when mentioning Kim Sun-hyung is ‘Flash Sun’. It was created through an interview with a reporter for the January 2013 issue of Jump Ball, and later became a modifier representing Kim Sun-hyung. He peaked this season. Not only was he selected as the MVP, but he even showed off a ‘flash’ ceremony where he made lightning with his fingers. “Now, ‘Flash Sun’ is mentioned more than the name. Thank you for creating a nickname that I feel as proud of as my name. After winning the championship last season, I once appeared with the coach on YouTube produced by SK Telecom. He asked me if there was any special ceremony, so I replied that I would do an impromptu lightning ceremony. I was thinking of holding a ceremony if I scored at an important moment, but the moment I dunked against KT, the promise suddenly came to my mind. Fans loved it too.” ㅋㅋㅋ벳
“I thought my heyday would never come again. I was also surprised that I was in my prime at this age. I think the glory days are now.” This was the impression Kim Seon-hyeong left after being selected as the regular league MVP. Kim Seon-hyeong was a star in the spotlight ever since his debut. He quickly became a sign of SK by demonstrating outstanding breakthrough power, and won a gold medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. He hit In You A Pace against Kang Byeong-hyeon, and in the match against China, he made a quick dunk dunk avoiding Li Jian Lien’s block shot. Why did Kim Seon-hyeong, who made highlight films several times when his athletic ability was at its peak and experienced many victories, chose now as the ‘glorious era’ when he was in his mid-30s?
“When I was dropped from the final list for the Asian Games in Guangzhou, (Yang) Dong-geun hyung and Commissioner Lee Kyu-seop came to my room and comforted me. I said ‘Thank you for your hard work’ and tears came out. So for a while, I was teased for being a crybaby (laughs). Being away from the national team at that time motivated me to grow further. There were happy moments after that, but I don’t think there was a section that could be called the ‘Glory Age’. In terms of skill, I think the peak was the 2017 Asia Cup, but I got injured after that. If you think about it, I think I’m better now than I thought I was in my heyday for a while. It’s prime time. At one time, I thought, ‘I might retire without winning.’ So when I won the 2017-2018 season, I cried. The content of the series was also dramatic. Even when I won the championship last season, I cried in a different way, but at the recent awards ceremony, you said, ‘The era of glory is now’. ‘I got it wrong. We have to work harder and not be complacent so that we can say, ‘This is an era of glory that surpasses that time.’”