American banned from Korean basketball for being ‘too tall’
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American banned from Korean basketball for being ‘too tall’

SOUTH KOREA’S professional basketball league has kicked out a US national because he is deemed “too tall” under new regulations.

The Korean Basketball League (KBL) announced last week that as of next season, foreign players can be no taller than 2 metres. The league believes that by imposing height restrictions it will encourage teams to recruit players rather than “just tall ones”, reported The Korea Times.

For the 2018-19 season, KBL teams will only be able to have one foreign player that is a maximum of 200cm in height and another than is no taller than 186cm. They are already limited to having just two foreigners per team.

This means US national David Simon, who is 203 centimetres tall and plays for Anyang KGC, will be banned from participating in the league. The 35-year-old has played in South Korea since 2010 and is considered one of the best players in the KBL.

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He told the BBC that the decision “kind of stinks” and that he was “a little upset” given that he had played in the KBL for almost a decade. “I wasn’t one of the tallest players, I wasn’t even the tallest player on my own team,” he said. “I don’t understand.”

According to South Korea’s news agency Yonhap, a petition against the restrictions called the decision “an international shame”. “It’s disgusting that a player like Simon is forced to retire in South Korea because of this ridiculous rule,” it said.


Charles Rhodes plays for Jeonju KCC Egis in the KBL. Source: BDA Sports International

Another American, Charles Rhodes, was measured at 200.1cm and will be allowed to continue playing in South Korea. “It was stressful, but I feel so great,” he was quoted as saying after being measured by KBL officials. “By far, it was the most nervous measurement in my whole career.”

The average height of South Korean males is 173 centimetres, compared with 176 centimetres in the United States. Most professional basketball players are much taller than average.

“Kicking out the basketball players for just being tall? That is absurd,” wrote one petitioner. “The KBL commissioner has ignored the voices of most officials and fans. I cannot stand his leadership anymore.”