A player who only played for one team from start to finish is called a ‘one club man’. They are treated like legends and idols by the fans of that team. There is also a practice of making the player’s uniform number permanent. Professional basketball (KBL) Oh Se-geun (36) knew that too. He debuted in Anyang KGC in 2011 and has been there for 12 years. He won four championships and was also awarded his third championship MVP along with his win last season. After 17 years of ‘loyalty’ at KGC, everyone thought that he would succeed Yang Hee-jong (39, number 11 permanently absent), who retired this year. On the 18th, he suddenly announced his transfer to Seoul SK. The basketball world was even more surprised because the new team was the opponent (SK) that had been fiercely fighting for the title until just before.
◇”I’m a bit disappointed”
KGC had its first meeting with Oh Se-geun, who obtained FA (free agent) status, on the morning of the 9th, when the excitement had not faded after winning the championship on the 7th. At the time, the contract period of 3 years, the first year maximum (salary + incentives) presented the condition of 700 million won. It was lower than the previous contracts of Kim Jong-gyu (Wonju DB, 710 million won) and Lee Seung-hyun (Jeonju KCC, 750 million won), who were not rated higher than Oh Se-geun. Salary is the pride of sports players. Oh Se-geun is reported to have said, “I’m a little sad” without saying anything else.
Even at this time, KGC could not accurately read Oh Se-geun’s intentions. Having been together for 12 years, of course I was optimistic that I would stay. He was engrossed in negotiating contract renewals with Moon Seong-gon (30), who had just obtained FA status, and finding a replacement player for Byun Jun-hyung (27), who would enlist in the management team. KGC said, “We will be together until the end. I would like you to give me a little concession,” he said. The two sides met on the 13th at KGC Bae Byung-jun’s wedding hall, but Oh Se-geun continued to be in a position of ‘sad’, and broke up with a promise to meet again on the 17th.
◇”Warney will play again next year?”
FA negotiations are a battlefield without guns. Information warfare and behind-the-scenes work are busy between clubs and players. SK Kim Seon-hyung (35), who collaborated with Oh Se-geun on a 52-game winning streak at Chung-Ang University, said that he had said several times, “Hyung, let’s play together once” from the day after the championship game. Then, when the story circulated that Oh Se-geun was having difficulties renewing his contract, SK approached him. SK decided to meet Oh Se-geun on the 17th. The day when Oh Se-geun and KGC decided to have a second round of negotiations. Oh Se-geun seems to have decided after meeting both sides.
When KGC heard the rumors, the fire fell on their feet. Another ‘rabbit’, Moon Seong-gon, announced that he had signed a contract with Suwon KT for up to 780 million won for 5 years, and belatedly offered Oh Se-geun up to 810 million won over 5 years. That was 2 losses in a row. Oh Se-geun seems to have grown saddened by saying, “I could have given that much in the first place, but I tried to save it.”
◇”I felt a sense of disappointment and collapse”안전놀이터
After that, SK, which I met, offered up to 700 million won over three years. It was the same as the original proposal of KGC. But this time, Oh Se-geun actively negotiated. On the spot, they asked a lot about the prospects for next year’s season, such as ‘Does (foreign player MVP) Jameel Warney (29) continue running? Oh Se-geun had a strong desire for a fifth championship, and SK, with Kim Seon-hyung and Warney in good health, was an attractive option.
On the 18th, Oh Se-geun came to the KGC office and said, “The opportunity to move the team is virtually the last. He wants to try a new basketball game on a new team.” And he signed with SK for 3 years and up to 750 million won. Oh Se-geun said on social media, “I felt great disappointment and collapse while negotiating free agents (with KGC). After much thought and consideration, he decided to move to SK. I will always live with the support, shouts and love I received here.”
KGC has repeated similar failures in FA negotiations with Park Chan-hee (36) in 2012, Kim Tae-sul (39) in 2014, and Lee Jung-hyun (36) in 2017. A KGC official said, “We will propose structural problems to the federation, such as the inability to guarantee multi-year salaries in the current FA contract system.”