Basketball legend Kang Dong-hee, now the head coach of Wonju Dongbu Promy in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), will be questioned by prosecutors Thursday over possible manipulation of games.
Authorities arrested earlier this week a fixer who they believed paid Kang 30 million won (about $27,500) for fixing a league game two years ago. Kang, now 47 and widely considered as the greatest point guard Korea has ever produced, has strongly denied the allegation.
''It's difficult for us to provide more details on a case that is currently under investigation. If we are able to prove that Kang was indeed involved in rigging games, our probe will spread widely into the league,'' said an official from the prosecution in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province.
In a conversation with Yonhap News, Kang claimed he was never offered money in exchange for fixing games. Dongbu Promy is currently in playoff contention this season in the 10-team league, tied with KT for the sixth and the final playoff spot.
While Kang has never been openly accused of game rigging, KT head coach Jeon Chang-jin recently accused him of ''tanking'' _ or losing games on purpose _ in gunning for a better position for next season's rookie draft.
The arrested middleman, identified only as Choi, is a former players' agent who has maintained a tight relationship with Kang over the years, prosecutors said. Dongbu Promy is investigating the allegations surrounding Kang independently, the team said.
Kang served as Dongbu's assistant coach from 2005 to 2009 before taking over the helm ahead of the 2009-2010 season. Last year, Dongbu Promy established new KBL records for most wins in a season with 44.
All four of Korea's major professional sports leagues ― baseball, football, basketball and volleyball ― have been rocked by game rigging in recent years. The scandals started in 2006 when all-star forward Yang Kyung-min, also from the Dongbu Promy, was caught betting on his own games.
In what now appears a blatant act of complacency, the KBL allowed Yang to return for the playoffs that year after suspending him through the regular season.
Kang had a memorable career as a player, leading the Kia Motors dynasty in the old corporate league, which preceded the KBL. Kang was also named as league MVP in the KBL's first season in 1997, and won the league's assists title four different times before retiring in 2004.