Korean superstar Psy was in town Tuesday night to pay homage to basketball legend and childhood friend Seo Jang-hoon, as he played his last game in an amazing career which spanned 15 years, finishing as arguably the greatest basketball player the country has ever seen.
Psy sat courtside during the game, which KT won 84-79, and also participated in a pregame ceremony to congratulate the 39-year-old Seo. He opened the pregame activities with an unsuccessful free throw attempt to the delight of the 7,000 fans in attendance, as well as stayed to watch the touching tribute after the game to honor his friend.
Seo capped his final game with 33 points, 16 of which came in the first quarter, showing flashes of his younger days when he dominated the league and was considered one of Asia’s best big men. He also scored nine of the teams final 11 points to solidify the win, though the team ended the season a disappointing ninth place with a 20-34 record.
After the game, Seo told Haps when asked how he felt now that his career was all over that he felt ‘so-so’, but minutes later during the retirement ceremony, he broke down in tears, a rare sight for the usually stoic big man. Singer and actress Solbi serenaded the crowd with Mariah Carey’s ‘Hero’ to honor the man known as the ‘national treasure’ before his famed number 11 was retired.
Injuries and age took a toll on the 6’8 Seo this year, though he still managed to average 10.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 41 appearances this season. He also will be remembered as a philanthropist to the game, donating his entire 200 million won season salary to his alma mater’s basketball program after he signed with KT last summer.
Seo began his storied career at Yonsei University in 1994, where as a freshman he led the school to win the Basketball Festival, at the time equivalent to the national championship. He started his pro career with the SK Knights in 1998 while also enjoying stints for Samsung, KCC, Incheon ET Land, LG and finally, his last year here with the KT Sonic Boom. His greatest achievement was winning gold in the Asian Games in 2002, the first time and until today, only time he cried as an athlete.
He’s also battled personal problems this past year after a highly publicized divorce with KBS announcer Oh Jung-yeon after a three year marriage.
He ends his brilliant career with 13,231 points regular season points, and 14,708 total including playoffs and all-star appearances. He played in 688 games, amassing 5,235 rebounds in 22,834 minutes, averaging 19.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game during his professional career.