Rickey Paulding ended his long professional career with the Oldenburg basketball team. The American was in the club’s squad for 15 years, which is unusual in the fast-paced German professional scene, especially in basketball. The “Nordwest-Zeitung”, which is published in Oldenburg, dedicated a teaser to Paulding on the front page and a double-page spread in the sports section before his last games at the weekend. BBL Managing Director Stefan Holz honors the player who is loyal to the club as a “prototype of the franchise player”. It was “an absolutely unusual story”.
But the ovations are also thought-provoking. The loyalty and identification of a – foreign – professional with an employer are therefore “unusual”. Why actually? They should be vitally important and commonplace for all top-flight clubs in the country, after all, players like Paulding encourage supporters to identify with the club and interest in the sport among those who only watch basketball from time to time. It’s always easier to root for people you’ve known for a long time. Consistency creates closeness.
Which shouldn’t be a plea in principle against the new: But there are also clubs that quickly replace half the squad after an unsuccessful season – and that year after year. Because no one has patience, apparently not even the supporters, which club officials then like to justify.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Rickey Paulding, after all, already 39, despite two titles that were a little longer ago (championship and cup), doesn’t really stand for a really great era in Oldenburg, but for consistency and trust in just one club and as a good example of how it can and should work if you want to promote the popularity of a club and the league.