A Stern Foundation is laid out for the UCI KCCC IBA

Procrastination can give birth to a great idea. Somewhere in history, someone might have neglected to do some important task he was supposed to do, and a last ditch effort gave birth to a great idea. OK, maybe in history that has never been the case, but for me it happened.


All the brothers in Korea Campus Crusade for Christ (KCCC) wanted to have an intramural basketball team this winter quarter, leaving me in charge of getting this organized. A lot of people, including my own bible study mentee, told me to hurry up and sign up at the ARC because the spots were going to fill up fast. I told them, “Yeah, I’ll get to it,” repeatedly, but by the third week it was too late. Already feeling a flood of guilt running through my veins and into my conscience, I had to act fast before a mob of angry Asian men would spam my Facebook wall with comments about not having an IM team.


Enter the Korean Basketball Association.


Seeing how my friends at the UC Riverside chapter of KCCC started their own intramural basketball league, I thought why not us? Our club had a lot of guys who loved to play basketball, but playing only pick-up games does lose its appeal. There needs to be some competition, something that can motivate our guys to not just play basketball, but learn how the game works. I talked it over with my friends, and after spending two hours furiously inviting people and writing down my ideas on Facebook, the foundation of the KBA was laid down. All it needed was God’s approval.


Long story short: He said yes.


Now, the toughest part of organizing this intramural league was balancing out the 24 guys who wanted to play into four competitively balanced teams. There were several factors I had to keep in mind: skill level and intangibles.


As much as I would like to have balance in the games, I had to be mindful of the players’ temperament as well. Things could get ugly when you have one team full of players with a short fuse. Moreover, the fact that we’re a Christian ministry gets tossed out the window the moment F-bombs are thrown around by players because of a missed shot.


Scheduling was a pain, too. Everyone had to agree on a time and day that wouldn’t interrupt whatever plans we had. Not only did we have school-related events in our schedule, but some of us were also occupied by internships, church activities, prayer meetings and anything Christian that pops in your mind.


After much conflict and 20 comments on a Facebook wall post, we came to a compromise and decided  to play on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.


Also our league couldn’t be called KBA. We had three Chinese, two Filipinos, a Thai, an Indonesian, a Guatemalan and a white dude in our league. Calling ourselves the Korean Basketball Association would be politically incorrect —  thus, the International Basketball Association.


As I went through this process, I prayed to God to give me better discernment and decision making than David Stern. I called up some of the guys and asked them how they felt about playing with so and so. Three potential lineup drafts later, I made the final roster. It was now up to the players to figure out their team names. They came up with “Gimme That;” “Chololo” (named after my friend Andrew Cho); “Toon Squad” (I’d give a cookie to anyone who can catch that reference); and finally, my team: “Ball So Hard University.”


Our first games were on Feb. 8. We completely occupied one of the ARC’s outdoor courts. We played 16-minute halves with friends volunteering as referees and another keeping track of scores. The turnout was a success.  Both games went without controversy and produced some entertaining results. Chololo had a fairly undersized lineup with only one player above 5 feet, 10 inches, but they managed to outplay the physical Gimme That with a 25-19 victory. My game was a low-scoring affair, but my team, Ball So Hard University, came away with an overtime 17-15 victory over Toon Squad.


As thrilled as I was to have won my first game with a close-range basket, I couldn’t believe what I just pulled off. I somehow organized an independent basketball league and gathered 23 guys to play some competitive basketball.  But there were still some quirks that needed some work. I am currently facing a decision over adding a shot clock and if free throws should be given rather than resetting the ball after a foul. I can’t create rules that can make everyone happy. It’s one of the difficult issues I eventually had to face as organizer of this league.


Although the disagreements aren’t as hostile as those in the NBA since almost all the players are my friends, my mind opened to a whole new perspective. David Stern must have it tough.


As commissioner of the NBA, his job is to ensure that basketball fans are entreated to the highest level of basketball competition and maintain the organization of the league. Amidst the heavy pressure, he has often made decisions that angered one group, whether it be fans, players, or owners or even all three, leaving them very unhappy. I found myself becoming sympathetic toward him, understanding how tough it is to run a basketball lea — actually, I’m not.


Through starting IBA, I’m pretty convinced that I can do a better job. Everyone can. Don’t call me naïve, but if you love the game and can relate with being a fan and a player, then it doesn’t take a Columbia University graduate to tell true basketball aficionados how the NBA should be run. Can a real commissioner please stand up?