The Korean Basketball League (Korean: 한국프로농구) or simply KBL is a professional men's basketball league in South Korea which was established in 1997. The league consists of ten teams and each team plays a total of 54 games (27 home and 27 away) in the regular season.
|Organising body||Korea Basketball Association|
|Federation||Korea Basketball Association|
|Number of teams||10|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Feeder to||FIBA Asia Champions Cup|
|Domestic cup(s)||KBL Cup|
|Current champions||Anyang KGC (4th title) |
|Most championships||Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus (7 titles)|
|Most appearances||Joo Hee-jung (1,009 matches)|
|All-time top scorer||Seo Jang-hoon (13,231 pts.)|
|Website||KBL official website|
The Korean Basketball League was established in 1997. Prior to the professional era, domestic basketball was an amateur sport and all teams, whether sponsored by a corporate company or a university, participated in the National Basketball Festival (Korean: 농구대잔치), a competition sanctioned by the Korea Basketball Association. Early teams were sponsored by major corporate companies or universities. The Korea Development Bank (KDB) and Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) established their basketball teams as early as the 1950s and 1960s while Yonsei University and Korea University are considered pioneers of domestic college basketball, having introduced the sport to their institutions before World War II. During the 1970s and 1980s, major industrial companies such as Kia Motors, Hyundai Electronics and Samsung Electronics started their own basketball teams. The predecessor teams of Goyang Orion Orions, Anyang KGC and Wonju DB Promy were founded during the 1990s by smaller-scale companies hoping to take advantage of the "basketball craze".
Professional era Edit
The 1996–97 National Basketball Festival ended in January 1997, and the inaugural KBL season began one month later in February. The National Basketball Festival remains an amateur-only tournament to this day and is contested by university reserve teams, amateur teams and the Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps's basketball team.
Sponsoring companies were given the option to register their basketball teams in the upcoming professional league. KDB and IBK opted to sell their teams; however, their new owners chose to re-start the teams as brand new franchises, only acquiring their players and staff but not inheriting the team's legacy or historical records. The founding teams were Busan Kia Enterprise, Gyeongnam LG Sakers, Daegu Tongyang Orions, Suwon Samsung Thunders, Wonju Naray Blue Bird, Anyang SBS Stars, Incheon Daewoo Zeus, Daejeon Hyundai Dynat, and Gwangju Nasan Flamans. Some of the teams, such as Anyang SBS Stars, had been based in Seoul but chose to move to another city. The plan was to have a team based in each geographical region rather than only centralized in the Seoul Capital Area. The 1997–98 season was the first full season played and the tenth team, Cheongju SK Knights, was added as a member. The KBL has had ten teams ever since.
The early years of the league were plagued by the financial instability, exacerbated by the 1997 Asian financial crisis which had impacted South Korea especially hard. As with other domestic sports leagues, the KBL was not immune to the economic fall-out. The KBL had difficulty finding a league sponsor for the 1997–98 season while teams were forced to cut costs. Between 1997 and 2001, five of the ten teams had changed ownership due to financial problems.
For the regular season, the round-robin format is utilized as each team plays against every other team six times (three home and three away). A total of 54 games are played in six rounds. Only the top six teams in the regular season standings advance to the post-season playoffs.
League structure Edit
KBL Cup Edit
The KBL Cup was first introduced in 2020 as a pre-season competition for all teams to test out their strengths before the commencement of the regular season.
Regular season Edit
The regular season runs from October to early April. Each team plays against the other nine teams six times (3 home and 3 away). A total of 54 games are played in six rounds.
The annual KBL Award Ceremony takes place right after the end of the regular season.
Teams which failed to qualify for the post-season playoffs take a short break before commencing their off-season training to prepare them for the upcoming season.
Post-season playoffs Edit
The playoffs usually begin a week after the end of the regular season.
Only the top six teams in the regular season standings advance to the post-season playoffs.
The qualification of the six teams for either the quarter-finals or semi-finals of the playoffs are determined by their regular season standings. The teams ranked from third to sixth qualify for the quarter-finals, and the teams ranked first and second earn an automatic advancement to the semi-finals.
The quarter-finals are played in a best-of-three format. The two winning teams of the quarter-finals then advance to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals are played in a best-of-five format. The two winning teams of the semi-finals then compete for the KBL championship title in the finals.
The finals are played in a best-of-seven format.
KBL All-Star Game Edit
The KBL All-Star Game is held in mid-January every year. The event is usually held in Seoul, except for multiple occasions where it was held outside of Seoul (2007 in Ulsan, 2017 in Busan, and 2021 in Daegu).
Based on the 2021–22 All-Star Game format, five players from each of the ten teams are nominated for the All-Star fan vote. Only the top 24 players in the fan vote standings are selected to participate in the All-Star Game. The two players with the most number of votes form their respective teams by recruiting eleven players each, regardless of their original teams.
Current clubs Edit
|Anyang JungKwanJang Red Boosters||Anyang||Anyang Gymnasium||6,690||1992||1997|
|Changwon LG Sakers||Changwon||Changwon Gymnasium||6,000||1994||1997|
|Daegu KOGAS Pegasus||Daegu||Daegu Gymnasium||3,867||1994||1997|
|Goyang Day One Jumpers||Goyang||Goyang Gymnasium||6,216||1996||1997|
|Jeonju KCC Egis||Jeonju||Jeonju Gymnasium||4,730||1977||1997|
|Seoul Samsung Thunders||Seoul||Jamsil Arena||11,069||1978||1997|
|Seoul SK Knights||Seoul||Jamsil Students' Gymnasium||5,400||1997|
|Suwon KT Sonicboom||Suwon||Suwon KT Sonicboom Arena||3,880||1997|
|Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus||Ulsan||Dongchun Gymnasium||5,831||1986||1997|
|Wonju DB Promy||Wonju||Wonju Gymnasium||4,600||1996||1997|
Titles by club Edit
|Club||Titles||Runners-up||Winning seasons||Runner-up seasons|
|Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus||7||3||1997, 2006–07, 2009–10, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2018–19||1997–98, 1998–99, 2005–06|
|Jeonju KCC Egis||5||5||1997–98, 1998–99, 2003–04, 2008–09, 2010–11||1999–2000, 2004–05, 2009–10, 2015–16, 2020–21|
|Anyang JungKwanJang Red Boosters||4||1||2011–12, 2016–17, 2020–21, 2022–23||2021–22|
|Wonju DB Promy||3||6||2002–03, 2004–05, 2007–08||1997, 2003–04, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2017–18|
|Seoul SK Knights||3||3||1999–2000, 2017–18, 2021–22||2001–02, 2012–13, 2022–23|
|Seoul Samsung Thunders||2||3||2000–01, 2005–06||2007–08, 2008–09, 2016–17|
|Goyang Day One Jumpers||2||1||2001–02, 2015–16||2002–03|
|Changwon LG Sakers||0||2||—||2000–01, 2013–14|
|Suwon KT Sonicboom||0||1||—||2006–07|
|Daegu KOGAS Pegasus||0||1||—||2018–19|
Prize money Edit
- Champions (finals winners)
- KRW 100,000,000 + trophy (1997–present)
- Runners-up (finals losers)
- KRW 50,000,000 (1997–present)
- Regular season first place
- KRW 50,000,000 + trophy (1997–2005)
- KRW 100,000,000 + trophy (2005–present)
- Regular season second place
- KRW 30,000,000 (1997–2005)
- KRW 50,000,000 (2005–present)
- Regular season third place
- KRW 20,000,000 (1997–2005)
- KRW 30,000,000 (2005–present)
Individual achievements Edit
The KBL awards ceremony is held annually at the end of the regular season. As of the 2020–21 season, the following honours are awarded:
- Most Valuable Player (MVP)
- Rookie of the Year
- Foreign Player of the Year
- Best 5
- Defensive Player of the Year
- Defensive Best 5
- Sixth Man Award
- Skill Development Award
- Fair Play Award
- Play of the Season
- Popularity Award
- Coach of the Year
The awards ceremony takes place at the conclusion of the regular season, before the playoffs begin. The Playoffs MVP is only awarded at the conclusion of the final Championship game.
Top scorer Edit
Domestic players Edit
Domestic players, defined as possessing South Korean citizenship according to FIBA laws, are recruited through an annual rookie draft. The draft was held since 1998. In 2009, an ethnic draft was introduced to allow the recruitment of players who have acquired South Korean nationality, or either of their parents is a Korean. Players recruited through ethnic drafts are waived from being counted as an import player. However, due to the controversial nature of the recruitment rules and the backlash, the ethnic draft was eventually abolished in 2013.
Import players Edit
From 2018, all teams are allowed to freely select their import players, subject to a "two-import" quota per team and a salary cap of $700,000. Only one foreign player is allowed to play on court in every quarter.
Asian player quota Edit
In a move to further develop the quality of basketball in the country, the "Asian Player Quota" programme was introduced ahead of the 2020–21 season for Japanese players. This programme allows each team to recruit one Japanese player (excluding naturalized, dual citizenship and mixed race players) from Japan's B.League. Players recruited under the "Asian Player Quota" programme are excluded from the foreign player quota, and included in the domestic player salary cap. Wonju DB Promy became the first team in the league to recruit a Japanese player, as they inked a one-year deal with Taichi Nakamura. Ahead of the 2022–23 season, the programme was extended to Filipino players (owns a Philippine passport and both parents must have either Philippine citizenship or passport). In June 2022, Daegu KOGAS Pegasus becomes the first team to recruit a Filipino player, as they announced a two-year deal with SJ Belangel.
Mandatory military service Edit
Players of the Korean Basketball League are eligible to apply to fulfil their military service obligations as members of the Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps. Alongside military duties, they are allowed to train as professional athletes and play for the Sangmu Basketball Team. Successful applicants officially enlists in May or June and are discharged eighteen months later in January, returning to the team rosters for the final rounds of the regular season.
See also Edit
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