Outsiders who were sure of their career and skills, but age held them back
Not many basketball fans will remember the name William Hayes (61‧188 cm). That’s because he only played one season in the KBL and didn’t make much of an impact. However, there may be some old fans who go “ah-ha” and “knee-jerk” when they hear the name of an older guard foreigner who played alongside Jason Williford (50‧194.4cm) in the Bluebirds in his second professional season.
In addition to Williford, the first-year pro team also had an outstanding foreign forward named Kaleigh Harris (53‧183 cm), who advanced to the championship game. It was a huge upset considering they were initially picked to finish last. It was a result of the mercenary skills of coach Choi Myung-ryong (71‧184cm), who had two well-chosen foreign players despite their objective strength.
The foreign guard who drew the most attention at the original tryouts was Gerald Walker, but Choi’s intentions were different. He had his heart set on Harris, and when SBS selected Walker, he was ecstatic to get his pick. In fact, it was a good choice to pick a foreigner in the first season, as Harris played with a lot of heart.
Normally, you would re-sign both foreign players who led you to the final. However, Narae only re-signed Wilford and let Harris go. Despite their talent, both players were known for their temper tantrums on and off the court. In the case of Williford, he is now remembered as a rascal, but when he was working with Choi in Narae, he was such a meek foreign player that he was called Soondong.
He followed Choi like a father, but when he was traded to another team in such a situation, he became crooked(?). Of course, Choi didn’t want to let go of his beloved Williford, but there was nothing he could do about it, as trades are a business between clubs. In any case, Harris’s graying hair in the first season made Choi decide to bring in another technician rather than keep the top scorer. He wanted a player with integrity, not a troublemaker.
That’s where Hayes came in. There was a lot of buzz around the new technician from the same team that had picked a goal-scoring machine in Harris. The career path was clear. He could play both point guard and shooting guard, had played the previous season for the Newcastle Falcons in the Australian Pro League, and had a brief NBA stint under his belt. In terms of experience, he was one of the best foreign players to ever play in Korea.
However, the concern was that he was already in his late 30s. He was practically past his prime. Choi was cautious, checking out his performance at Newcastle, and finally decided to sign him. However, as they say in sports, “old age is a different story,” and Hayes had lost some of the physical strength he had at the peak of his career, and his problems were exposed in the KBL.
As a classy player, he overcame the decline in his athleticism with his characteristic veteranism and was praised for his technical skills. However, his stamina failed him and he repeatedly had up-and-down performances, which made Choi sigh deeply. Choi’s choice to trust him was a failure, as he played brilliantly in one game and then slumped in the next two or three.
In response, Choi said, “He showed the quality of a veteran by managing himself well and giving advice to the younger players. He had a good BQ, reading the flow of the game well, but the first problem was his physical strength and the second was his stamina. He had a hard time training, let alone competing. “What can an athlete do without physical strength,” he recalled.
As a result, at the end of the regular season, he was considered a candidate for release alongside LG’s Robert Boykins, Kia’s Justin Phoenix, Samsung’s Sean Eastwick, SK’s Dwight Maivette, SBS’s Charles Macon, Nasan’s Brian Bruso, and Daewoo’s Keitou Davis. But Hayes was a professional. He knew it was virtually impossible to re-sign him, but he gave it his all.
Not only did he spearhead a late-season surge that kept Narae’s hopes alive for a spot in the top four, but he gritted his teeth and played through the playoffs to erase some of the disappointment of the regular season. This was in stark contrast to Phoenix, which was plagued by controversy over the start of the championship.
In particular, Game 4 of the Sixth Round on March 16, 1998, was the game of Narae’s life. At the time, Narae was down two games to one against Dongyang, and one more loss would mean elimination. With Jason Williford (24 points, 15 rebounds) still in form, Hayes spearheaded the offense. He knocked down five three-pointers and continued to make fluid penetrations, weaving in and out of the paint to wear down the East defense.
His 15 points in the fourth quarter, which proved to be a turning point in the game, were especially crucial. Once Hayes hit his stride, Nara defeated Dongyang 100-92 to send the series to a fifth game. Despite the loss, he still managed to keep Dongyang on their toes in Game 5, scoring eight points in the fourth quarter (including two three-pointers). Given his playoff performance, it’s hard to imagine what Hayes could have been without his fitness issues.
William Hayes regular season stats ☞ 45 career games played, averaging 15 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1 steal.
William Hayes Playoffs ☞ Played in five games, averaging 21.8 points, five rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 0.8 steals.
⁕ Most points in a single regular season game: Points ☞ Suwon Samsung Electronics, Dec. 21, 1997 = 34 points / 3-pointers made ☞ Anyang SBS, Dec. 6, 1997 = 4 / assists ☞ Anyang SBS, March 7, 1998 = 6 / rebounds ☞ Cheongju SK, Feb. 21, 1998 = 8 / steals ☞ Daegu Dongyang, March 4, 1998 = 4
In a phone conversation with a reporter, Choi gave some updates on Tom Wiseman, the foreign coach at the time, and foreign player Hayes.
“Wiseman, who also coached the Japanese national team, has put down roots there. He married a rich Japanese girl and settled down. Hayes is similar. I’ve heard that he’s been very successful in business while staying in Australia, which is familiar to him. He’s a bit of a celebrity in Australia, with his face often appearing on building billboards. In any case, it’s good to hear that friends who struggled together in my class are doing well.” 카지노사이트