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7-28-2014 4-09-26 PM

One on One: Aaron Haynes

Adapting as a basketball player overseas can be a tough life. However, 32-year-old Boise State graduate Aaron Haynes has dominated the KBL for years, including winning last year’s MVP of the league by averaging 19.1 points and 8.2 rebounds a game. Despite Haynes’ individual success, the SK Knights were swept in the finals by Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.

Things haven’t changed much this year, with Haynes leading the Knights to second spot in the league so far, 1.5 games back of first place Ulsan Mobis Phoebus. He’s currently second in the league in scoring with 18.3 points a game while remaining one of the most dominant players in the league.

Haps caught up with Haynes to talk about life as an overseas baller, being a new father and his hopes to one day make it into the NBA.

Last year, you were swept by Mobis in the finals. Do you consider them the team to beat again this year?

If we both make it back to the finals, yes I would consider them the team to beat since they beat us last season. They are the champs until someone else beats them.

What’s different about the squad this year compared to last year? Were there a lot of expectations coming into this season?

The difference this year is we have a half-Korean this year which will help us a lot in the finals. It’s like having two Americans on the court together, and that was Mobis’ advantage last season versus us in the finals, so I feel we’ll be ready this time around. I think there were expectations even though no one spoke of them. Last year, we didn’t know how good we were coming in—this year, we know how good we are.

Last year you got married and had a son. How has that affected you? Has it made you mature as a player?

Yes I just got married and I’m very happy. We just had a healthy boy on August 1, and it’s affected me in a positive way. It’s made me mature more as a man and a player because now I have to make sure I take care of him whereas before I can just come and go with no worries. I miss my little man a lot but he’ll be here with me soon.

A lot of guys over the years come and go, but you’ve been successful wherever you’ve played in Korea for a few years now. How tough is it to be a foreign player in the KBL, and what kind of player do you think it takes to be successful?

I’ve seen a lot of good players come and go. It takes a certain type of player/person to play here and also to play here for six seasons because even though you may be playing good, the team might release you because you don’t fit well with the guys, or just because the coach doesn’t like you. But I’ve made it here this long by just being able to adapt. As you know, the Korean culture is very different than ours as Americans, but at the end of the day we all demand respect. That’s really it and to work hard.

I believe everything happens for a reason and God doesn’t make mistakes. I’m at where I’m supposed to be, but I’d give it all up to play in the NBA.

Some speculated in the off-season that you were going to try and take a shot at making the NBA. Do you still have that dream to play there someday?

Yes, I had four workouts lined up, but after speaking with my American agent, I chose to come back one more season and work on some things, so that’s what I decided to do. I would love to play in the NBA — that’s every basketball player’s dream growing up in the States. I’ll fly to Houston this summer and meet up with my agent and work out in front of some NBA personnel.

With all the success you’ve had in your career, what would you give up to make your NBA dream come true?

I believe everything happens for a reason and God doesn’t make mistakes. I’m at where I’m supposed to be, but I’d give it all up to play in the NBA.

If you were starting an NBA franchise, who do you take first? Lebron or Durant?

I’d take Lebron. He’s a better leader and better all around player — Kevin Durant is a better scorer.

You get five players—give us your NBA dream team.

My NBA dream team — Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen or Larry Bird, Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon.



About Jeff Liebsch

Jeff Liebsch has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Eurobasket, Tribal Football and Yonhap News. He can be followed on Twitter at @chevybusan.

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