“When I talk to NBA fans around me, they say they don’t know who to root for in the Finals, and I feel the same way. If you look at the Denver Nuggets, they’re having an incredible run with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, so it would be a shame if they didn’t win it all. On the other hand, if you look at the Miami Heat, the story of their leader, Jimmy Butler, and the story of many of their players is poignant. The underdog story of the team itself is also resonating with many fans, as evidenced by the miracle of the No. 8 seed.”
This season’s NBA is so exciting and entertaining. There are so many different stories and twists, and new faces are making their mark. This is also true for Seoul Samsung coach Kim Hyo-beom (40‧189cm). From his perspective as a coach on the field or purely as a fan, he says it’s been an exciting playoffs no matter how you look at it, and the ongoing finals seem to be pitting the best teams against each other.
“I remember watching a lot of the key people on both teams when I was coaching in the G League, so that makes it even more exciting. I have an assistant coach in Denver, Charles Klask, who is like a mentor to me. I’ll watch a game and I’ll see him behind coach Mike Malone with his head down, writing something down, and that’s him. He’s the one who introduced me to the G-League and had a lot of good things to say to me. He was with the Pistons at the time, and it’s been a while, but I’m still grateful for that. So, for the sake of argument, I like to root for Denver a little bit more, but I also like Miami. I feel like if it wasn’t for my coach, I would be totally neutral.”
He also has fond memories of Miami starting point guard Gabe Vincent (27‧191cm). When he was a coach in the G League four years ago, he noticed Vincent, who was playing in the G League with Sacramento, but no one paid much attention to him at the time. Kim was different. He saw too much potential. He strongly argued that the team should bring Vincent on board.
“At the time, Vincent was literally just a G-League player, not tied to a two-way contract or anything, so it wasn’t hard to bring him in. I insisted that he should be brought in via trade and have a two-way contract. I was an assistant coach, so I was able to make that statement, and the head coach agreed. I don’t think he was a difficult player to get, but I think the higher-ups at the time judged him harshly, because I thought he was a good reader, a good passer, and a good defender. It’s a small personal memory that nobody will remember now, but every time I see him, I’m reminded of it.”
If Vincent had a high opinion of the under-the-radar Duncan Robinson (29‧201cm), the opposite was true.
The first time I saw him, I really didn’t like him. He played against my G-League team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the Miami Heat, and he took eight 3-pointers and made maybe one, and it wasn’t like he was doing much else, which was a little surprising considering he was on a two-way contract, but in retrospect, I had a problem with it. You can’t judge a player based on one or two games, you need to look at the context, and of course, he wasn’t on our team, so there were things like that. Anyway, at the time, Robinson didn’t play particularly well in that game, and I think that’s all I could see, so I made a hasty assessment for a moment.”
Robinson also reminds him of Lee Hyun-jung (23‧202cm).
“When I look at Robinson at that time, I think of Hyunjoong, because he was just coming back from an injury, and he wasn’t at his best. I saw him at that moment, and not too long ago, Hyunjoong was in that state. He had recovered from his injury, but he had a long layoff, and he was in an unfamiliar environment in the G League, so he needed time to adjust.”스포츠토토
Since then, Robinson has become a player that the NBA recognizes as a shooter. This has taught Kim a lot, too.
“He had some bad games at the time, but his stats were also bad, including his scoring average. In a way, Robinson was a player who was expected to be a role player, not a technician-type prospect, which is what I usually see. You can see that the value of a player is completely different depending on the use. That being said, I think he’s really starting to find his identity in Miami’s system, and he’s really starting to play to his strengths, which is his 3-point shot, but also his various cut-in plays.”