Sunday, 28th May 2023

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Danbi Heaven… “MVP is the beginning, not the end”

Danbi Kim (33, Woori Bank), a professional basketball player with 16 years of experience. After playing an active role in all directions this season, he put Woori Bank on the throne of the integrated championship in the first year of the transfer. Not enough to win the MVP award in the regular league and championship match, he won six crowns, including the Block Award, the Outstanding Defensive Player Award, the Yoon Deok-ju Award (highest contribution), and the BEST5. Danbi Kim has lived with the modifier ‘Ace’ since her debut and has received all awards, but this is the first time she has won the MVP award.

Even at the age of over 30, his skills are still the same. 17.17 points (2nd), 8.77 rebounds (5th), 6.1 assists (2nd), 1.53 steals (3rd), 1.3 blocked shots (1st) this season. His stamina is not as good as in his prime. He was the only player on the team to play in all games, averaging 31 minutes and 55 seconds per game.

I asked Kim Dan-bi, who I met at the Korea Women’s Basketball League (WKBL) in Gangseo-gu, Seoul on the 5th, how he felt about standing at the top. As soon as the question was over, he waved his hand and said, “It is not over just because I received MVP.” He said that the word ‘heyday’ is unfamiliar to hear at this age. Even if a player sets a record that everyone would like, he seldom affirms the words that float. I still have a lot of goals to achieve and a lot of greed to achieve.

Kim Dan-bi’s basketball philosophy is far from ‘one hee hee one’. He got the MVP he wanted so much, but he firmly said, “This moment is once in the end.” He said, “MVP and the title of ‘salary queen’ can change at any time.” It’s not that I didn’t have a lot of greed for MVP. It is an award that I have been waiting for so long that at one time the thought of ‘wanting to receive it’ itself was painful. Kim Dan-bi said, “I still don’t think I’m very good myself,” and said, “The next MVP is more important.”

The habit of considering ‘next’ in everything came from the experience of going uphill and downhill. Kim Dan-bi’s life as a player, which seemed to have been solid all along, had its own twists and turns. Looking back on his basketball life, he picked two moments as ‘turning points’. It was when he won 5 crowns in the Futures League (2nd division) in the 3rd year of his professional debut, and when Shinhan Bank, his team at the time of the 2018-2019 season, fell to the bottom of the regular league.

In 2009, Danbi Kim’s parent team, Shinhan Bank, was nothing to be afraid of. With ‘legend’ players such as Jeon Joo-won, Jeong Seon-min, and Choi Yoon-ah, they won the combined championship and even won the Futures League. Kim Dan-bi, who stood out among the seniors with thick bones, won 5 divisions of the Futures League and became a sixth man from the next season. Kim Dan-bi recalled his old memories from 14 years ago and smiled, saying, “That was the moment of greatest growth for me.”

Moments of frustration left as many traces as moments of growth. Danbi Kim immediately remembered the 2018-2019 season. It was when Shinhan Bank, which did not miss the top spot, fell to the bottom of the regular league. “I tried to win and was always at the top, but when my grades plummeted, I was shocked. It felt like getting hit in the head. It gave me a chance to wake up again while flashing something.”

The team’s sluggishness shook the players. “Losing has become a habit. I lost my confidence and forgot how to win. The next season wasn’t without impact. Even when I go out to a game, I worry about ‘what if I lose’.”

For Kim Dan-bi, who took victory for granted, this period became a time of tempering. When he went to the game after experiencing last place, he would repeat, ‘It is very difficult to win even one game’. However, he said that he tried little by little to change his mind, saying, ‘Even if I lose, I just have to win the next game.’ “Rather than dwelling on the past, I prepared for the next one. He has learned that if you make a mistake, try again, and if you make another mistake, try again.”

In the early days after debut, I don’t think I even fully felt the happiness of winning 1. Because if you go out in a game, you win. But after finishing last, I realized the value of each game. I had a similar mindset this season. Even when it was hard, I worked on it, calming myself, ‘It’s nothing compared to when I was at the bottom’.”

Of course, there are times when Kim Dan-bi, who completely immerses himself in the game without feeling the moment, is overpowered during the game. He said, “Whenever it is difficult, I go back to the ‘basics’.” The basic skill is, in a word, ‘bad work’. This is the biggest lesson Danbi Kim learned from Woori Bank manager Wi Sung-woo. “Ever since I was little, the director told me to do other dirty things first. Even when I wasn’t on the same team as the coach, when basketball wasn’t good, I went back to the basics as the coach said.”

Players who score well are always in the spotlight, but basketball is a team sport. Danbi Kim said, “It would be nice if I could win by doing well alone, but it’s not.”

“Attack has its ups and downs. Depending on the condition, there are days when the shot goes well and there are days when it doesn’t. Then you can fill in the other part. Even if you can’t attack, you can defend, rebound, and assist. It was up to my will. As long as I don’t do it roughly because I don’t want to do it, I can do my part as much as I practiced.”

Maybe that’s why Danbi Kim knows better than anyone the hard work of her colleagues who do dirty things well. Every time he stood in front of the microphone at the regular league awards ceremony held on the 6th of last month, he said메이저사이트, “I hope the spotlight will go to my teammates.” In addition to Park Hye-jin, Kim Jung-eun, and Park Ji-hyun, who matched on the court this season, junior players who burst into their potential as sixth men are the reasons not to be left out in the mention.

There are times when I get stimulated by the growth of my juniors. As he played for a long time as the ace of a team, the pressure to show a play worthy of his name weighed on him knowingly or unknowingly. Kim Dan-bi cited ‘comfort and arrogance’ as the biggest obstacle in his career. “There is a saying ‘the enemy is myself’. It’s a cheesy word, but I think it’s true. It was also the moment that made me decide to migrate. He was so used to the comfort of being in one place for so long, and there were so many moments where he couldn’t go any further because he thought, ‘I can do this much’.”

Although he said it calmly, it was not an easy decision to leave the team he had been with for 15 years since his debut. Danbi Kim said, “The words, ‘Why go through the hardships when you can remain as a franchise’ stuck in his heart.” “When I moved from Shinhan, I was dubious. He thought that since he had fans supporting the team, he might get scolded. Contrary to my worries, there were far more people who supported me. It was so reassuring. I really want to tell the fans that I am so grateful that they believed that it was a good choice.”

What is Danbi Kim’s next goal? “My biggest goal right now is to show the best play until the last moment without injury and retire,” he said. “I will try to slow down the descent as much as possible.” There is one condition for that. It’s simple, but it’s a big principle for Danbi Kim. “I want to play happy basketball,” he said. “It’s also my life motto, but I just want to enjoy basketball. I want to say that I was happy at this moment when I retired later.”

Danbi Kim’s journey toward ‘happy basketball’ continues into the next season. When asked what his mindset would be for the upcoming season, he said, “I don’t think it will be that different from this season.” He even received the MVP, but even when asked if there was anything different, he drew the line, saying, “Now it’s the last season.” Concluding her words, Danbi Kim once again glistened. “We have to prepare again from the beginning with the same mindset.”

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