In fact, it is the norm in basketball that many players change clubs every summer. Above all, professionals from the United States usually wander through Europe for years. It’s different with Rickey Paulding.
The flag of EWE Baskets Oldenburg will soon be seen fluttering in the wind more often in Kansas City. So far, Rickey Paulding has only hoisted the Bundesliga basketball team’s flag in his garden when he’s in the summer USA was.
Now, after an incredible 15 years in Oldenburg, the Baskets legend is permanently returning to his homeland. But the 39-year-old will always carry EWE Baskets in his heart.
“So it’s not goodbye, but we’ll definitely see each other soon,” said Paulding from the German press agency before his last home game this Friday (19.00 / Magentasport) against s.Oliver Würzburg. The last match of his impressive career at Ludwigsburg is on Sunday. On June 4, there will be a farewell game at Paulding in Oldenburg.
“He stands for our values”
“Rickey Paulding is crucial to the club’s identity. It stands for our values: passion, diligence, down to earth and modesty,” Oldenburg CEO Hermann Schüller said of the American who testified in 2007. France came to Oldenburg. “My family and I felt very comfortable here from the very first moment,” the father of three said.
At the time, however, Paulding would not have thought he would stay in the university town on the Hunt for 15 years. “No, of course not,” said Paulding, whose strong performances have always attracted the interest of other clubs. But because the family felt so at home in Lower Saxony, the decision always fell on EWE Baskets, where Paulding has long since become a legend.
On the way to Oldenburg’s home ground, where Paulding won the German championship with EWE Baskets in 2009 in a spectacular final series against Telekom Baskets Bonn, one is automatically greeted by Paulding. A huge graffiti by him stretching his arms out is adorned on one wall. “Pauldingburg” can be read on it in capital letters. It best describes the special relationship between him and the club. “It makes me proud,” said Paulding, who has scored nearly 8,000 points for Oldenburg and has become a face in the league.
BBL boss Holz pays tribute to Paulding
“He’s the prototype of the franchise player. It’s a very unusual story,” said Stefan Holz, CEO of the Basketball Bundesliga. “He’s still talented, but everything has its time. It’s also an art to stop at the right time,” Holz said. “He seems to succeed just like Per Günther.”
Ex-national player Günther, like Paulding, will end his career after this season. The point guard still qualified for the playoffs with ratiopharm Ulm. Another face in the league stops in Alex King from s.Oliver Würzburg.
But only Paulding can look back on 15 years in a club. It should therefore be very emotional when the crowd favorite arrives at the EWE Arena for the final official match on Friday. His mother and mother-in-law came all the way from the United States to be a part of this special moment. “It means a lot to me. My mother made sure I could go my own way and always kept me out of precarious situations when I was young,” said Paulding, who grew up without a father in Detroit’s difficult environment.
After a long time abroad, Paulding is looking forward to getting closer to his family in the United States. But he will also stay connected to EWE Baskets from there. Discussions are currently underway with those in charge of the club about his exact role in the future. And besides the Baskets flag, something else will always remind him of Oldenburg: kale. “I do not eat it every day, but I love it. We do not have it in the United States, so I bring a few packets with me.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220426-99-55915 / 4 (Of Lars Reinfelddpa)