After being cut today by the defending Korea Basketball League champions, Ulsan Mobis Phoebus, and just weeks before the opening of the new season, American stand-out and several time all-star Rod Benson denies allegations of demanding more money from the club and felt disrespected.
Benson, in an exclusive interview with Haps, disputed reports coming from his former team following his release.
“It’s not even about money,” said Benson. “It’s just like they literally could care less that I’m alive if I’m not rebounding.”
According to Jumpball Magazine, the team cited its reasons for releasing Benson were due to insubordination — including ignoring coaches instructions, using profanity, failing to report to camp in shape and demanding a raise.
Benson, who became increasingly discontent with the organization, acknowledges he felt frustrated and that it began to show on the court. According to the 6’10 center, he purposely gained 30 pounds in the offseason to bulk up for the upcoming season, but had lost most of the weight already.
As for the question of wanting more money, Benson, who makes the league maximum for foreign players, refuted the allegations, saying there was no suggestion of illegal impropriety.
“We (me and my agent) never said we wanted illegal money. I don’t fully understand the rules, but I thought there were some options,” Benson told Haps. “But I told them I don’t understand the rules.”
The 29-year-old Benson also expressed a desire to continue his basketball career in Korea.
“I like coach Yoo, I like my teammates. But it just felt like I didn’t get the proper respect after winning two championships. I want to keep playing in the KBL and I love Korea. I just wanted to feel like the people here like me and like my game and are happy to have me around. It made me frustrated to not feel that way.”
Benson, arguably one of the Korean Basketball League’s most talented players of all-time, led Mobis to back-to-back championships after being traded from the LG Sakers in 2012. The team won a KBL record 17 games in a row and 22 of 23 after his arrival to the squad and swept SK Knights in the finals en route to the title.
The 6-10 center was third in the league in rebounding last season with 8.6 grabs per game, in addition to being second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.8 points a game. Benson also led his previous team, Wonju Dongmu Promy to two finals appearances in 2010/11 and 2011/12.
Former teammate at LG and veteran Ira Clark has been tapped to replace Benson, as the 39-year-old Clark joins his fifth KBL squad. He led KT in scoring last season with 14.6 points per game.
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