Farmar Comes to Seoul
By Jonathan Sanfilippo
Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar is proud to be part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and grateful to earn a living by playing a sport he enjoys.
So when he was offered an opportunity to promote the North America-based league in a different area of the world, he happily accepted it.
Farmar joined the Dallas Mavericks' dancers and New Orleans Hornets' mascot as guests at NBA Madness Korea, an interactive event for fans that took place Friday through Sunday at Yongsan I'Park Mall in Seoul. He put on basketball clinics, spoke with crowds and signed autographs in an effort to help others have a good time.
``I'm trying to be as involved in the NBA as possible,'' Farmar said. ``I feel that I've had an opportunity to grow with playing time and an opportunity on the court, and I'd like to take advantage of an opportunity off the court. I think it's good to be able to travel the world and see other places and help get the word about the NBA globalized. I think that's what we're trying to do.''
In addition to teaching others about basketball, Farmar used his trip to Seoul to learn about Korean culture. He had some knowledge of South Korea from his friendship with Ha Seung-jin, a Korean basketball player who had a brief career in the United States. But this was Farmar's first visit to the peninsula.
``My first impression is that Korea's a beautiful county,'' Farmar said. ``I like it a lot. It's similar to New York City because it has a lot of people. There's a lot of stuff going on, a lot of lights.''
There's a lot of stuff going on in Farmar's basketball career as well. The 1.88-meter, 81.6-kilogram guard recently finished his second season in the NBA, during which he emerged as an important player for the Lakers, averaging 9.1 points and 2.7 assists per game. He helped the team compile a 57-25 record during the regular season and win the Western Conference title, before it lost the NBA finals, a best-of-seven series, 4-2 against the Boston Celtics.
``I'm playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, and I realize how special that organization is, built around winning and greatness and all the people who have played for that organization,'' Farmer said, referring to Lakers stars such as Hall of Famer Earvin ``Magic'' Johnson and the NBA's current Most Valuable Player (MVP), Kobe Bryant. ``So for me to be a part of it after growing up my whole life watching them and loving them, it was more of a dream coming true. I couldn't even imagine it happening if I tried, and when it hit me, I was extremely, extremely happy.''
Farmar, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, is the son of Damon Farmar, a former professional baseball player. While Damon introduced his son to a variety of sports at a young age, basketball was the one Jordan enjoyed the most.
``I've just loved basketball ever since I picked up a basketball when I was 4 years old, and I wanted to do something different from my father to make my own name,'' he said.
After making a name for himself with a stellar high school basketball career, Farmar went on to play for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). During his second season with the school, he helped the Bruins reach the final of the 2006 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, where they lost 73-57 against the University of Florida.
Later that year, Farmar left UCLA to enter the NBA draft, where the Lakers selected him in the first round with the 26th pick.
Farmar spent his first NBA season adjusting to professional basketball, while he averaged 4.4 points in limited minutes. He even played some of that season in the NBA Development League (D-League) ― a lower-tier league designed to prepare players for the NBA ― before he eventually rejoined the Lakers.
This past season, Farmar showed improvement and earned more playing time with the Lakers, while the team reached the NBA finals for the first time since 2004. Despite having his bid for an NBA title end with a loss to the Celtics, Farmar said he's looking forward to being part of the Lakers' future.
``In the future, we have a great team with the Lakers,'' he said. ``In the future, we have Andrew Bynum coming back. We have Pau Gasol, Kobe, myself. We're all getting better, and we're growing together, and I think we have a chance to win a few championships in Los Angeles.''