The well known speech from John F Kennedy in Berlin where he uttered the famous and unforgetable words “ich bin ein Berliner” may be more than 53 years old, but that remains something that every kid learns about in the history books from Brooklyn, New York to Perth, Australia and yesterday Rickey Paulding (196-F/G-82, college: Missouri) let “Ich bin ein Oldenburger” slip his tongue and got standing ovations for minutes in the EWE arena in Oldenburg. Paulding’s 4 words won’t ever get the world wide press or rememberance as Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner”, but in Oldenburg Paulding will always be their Kennedy.The reason for the long standing ovations and fuss about Paulding was on account of the announcement that he will remain in Oldenburg until 2019 which would give him 12 years in the BBL with one team which is as seldom seen in the BBL as it is teammate Brian Qvale attempting more than one trey a game which he did against the Telekom Baskets Bonn this season and hit both and brings his total of three point attempts in 6 professional seasons to only 14. It is just not a given in todays age of where money rules and the game is a business that a player will remain with one team for that long a period. At the end of this contract extension he will have eclipsed the longevity of Fraport Skyliner legend Pascal Roller who was 11 years with Frankfurt.
Vaughn Duggins is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Pendleton, Indiana that is playing his sixth professional season, fourth in Germany and second with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Last season with Oldenburg he played 36 games: 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%. He started his basketball career in 2006 with Wright St. (NCAA) where he played until 2011 paying a total of 130 NCAA games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 18.0ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 82.2%. In 2011, he started his professional basketball career in Germany with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen where he played until 2013 and in his second season played 33 games averaging 14.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 82.0%. He then played two seasons in France with Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-ProA): 31 games: 10.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 85.9%; Eurocup: 10 games: 10.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 79.2% and Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-ProA, starting five): 32 games: 14.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 79.3%; Eurocup: 12 games: 11.1ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 78.6%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball recently during holiday time..
Vaughn thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you and how have you enjoyed the Christmas time in Germany this season?
I’m currently at my apartment in Oldenburg. The Holiday season in Germany is always amazing. Now that I’m able to share it with my wife and son, it makes it even more special. My mom, Paula, came to visit as well so I have gotten to spend a lot of time with all of them.
You have experienced some Christmas markets over the years in Germany, but where did the Christmas market rank in my all-time favorite city of Hamburg?
The Hamburg Christmas market is high level, and it is always great to experience what each city does differently. It is definitely in my top 3, but Tübingen’s Christmas market has always had a special place in my heart and, together with Oldenburg’s, is my favorite.
You had surgery on your ankle recently. How did that go and how has it been the last weeks not being able to play?
Surgery went amazingly well. I was in great hands with foot/ankle specialist Dr. Preis in Wiesbaden. I am feeling better every day and God-willing, I will be on the court faster than anticipated. The last few weeks not playing has not been fun. I am very competitive and not being able to be on the court with my teammates hurts.
Willie Dean is a 36 year old 188cm point guard that is playing his 14th professional season and second with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL). He has played in 11 countries in Greece, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, France and Latvia. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Boston College(NCAA) and then moved to Purdue where he played from 2000-2003 playing a total of 91 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 17.8ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 78.2%. Last season he played for STB Le Havre (France-ProA) playing FIBA Europe Cup: 9 games: 13.0ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.9apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 58.7%, 3FGP: 33.3%, FT: 84.6%; French ProA: 15 games: 9.3ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.4apg, 2FGP: 50.6%, 3FGP: 12.5%, FT: 87.0%, in Mar.’16 moved to BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL) playing 18 games: Score-2(15.9ppg), 3.6rpg, Assists-2(5.1apg), Steals-3(1.8spg), FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 81.3%. He spoke to German Hoopsbefore the Champions League game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Oldenburg.
Willie thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Oldenburg. You don´t have the fondest memories losing a Eurochallenge quarterfinal best of 3 to the EWE baskets in March 2013 with Khimik-OPZ Yuzny (Ukraine-Superleague). What memories do you have of this series?
I remember that we were in the game, but Rickey Paulding had a big game that got them through it.
Who was more annoying on the court Julius Jenkins or Ricky Paulding? Jenkins had big games in game one and three and Paulding steered 24 points in game three.
The most important game was game three where Paulding showed up. We had done a good job keeping him quiet for the first two games, but his contribution in game three allowed them to advance.
What memory do you have of ex teammate big man Miro Todic from that team?
Miro was a real good dude. I remember him as being very versatile and he could play the positions three and four and stretch the floor. He was a very good physical player.
You started your professional career in 2003. Have you seen any other places in Germany or has Oldenburg been the only place you have spent time with?
I played against the Artland Dragons when I was with Bulgarian team Lukoil.
You are 36 years old and still putting up stats as if you were 28. What motivates you to keep going and going?
I love to play the game of basketball. There is this misconception in Europe that once a player turns 30 that he can´t play anymore. I am living proof that that isn´t the case.
Besides keeping your body in shape why do you believe that you have been able to have such a long career?
I think that part of it is luck. Nobody can predict injuries and basketball is just an unknown thing. You go to play each day hoping for the best and too always come out after each game without a serious injury.
Often a player´s game goes down with age. What has been your secret to having the fountain of consistency in you?
I noticed that the older I got, the more that I had to do in the summers in terms of fitness. When I was younger, I could take off longer periods of time. When your older you have less time to be able to come back. You are more susceptible to injury as your body isn´t used to getting back to that high intensity.
You won four titles in Bulgaria and one in France and Italy. What drives you on to keep playing? Does winning titles increase a bit more with age?
Basketball is a team game. The teams success is measured by how much you can accomplish. I believe that individual awards don´t belong in basketball. Basketball isn´t an individual sport, but a team sport. I never understood why they give individual awards to players in a game that is a team sport.
You have played in 11 countries for 14 teams. Do you at times feel like a basketball globetrotter? What do you say to critics who might suggest that you change too much during seasons from one team to another that might be on account of your character? I guess you could say it hasn´t hindered teams from various countries to offer me jobs.
Every team that I ever played for wanted me to stay. The reasons for me not staying with teams over my career had nothing to do with my character. In many cases, they weren´t able to afford me further at that moment. It was nothing against me, but just part of the business.
You are playing for a team with a rich basketball tradition. What kind of experience has it been for you playing for this team and does one feel the tradition in and around the city?
It´s a very small town so everybody knows about the team. There is a lot of pressure on the team to hold down the tradition, but we are up to the challenge and we work very hard together each day to keep the tradition up.
BK Ventspils have a 10-1 record in the LBL league. What has been the secret to being at the top? Does the competition level suffer a bit to really give the team tough opponents on a regular basis?
You would think so, but that isn´t the case. When you have the best record, everyone is out to get you and prove you wrong. Many teams find that extra energy to compete against us which is something you wouldn´t have thought possible when looking at their roster.
BK Ventspils is 3-4 in the Champions League and playing better than their record shows. What has been the biggest difference in this competition in comparison to the LBL league?
The biggest difference is the budget of the teams. In Germany teams might be able to afford 6 Americans while in the LBL league maybe 2-3 Americans. The teams are also deeper in the Champions league.
In the 2013-2014 season you played the majority of the season with Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB, starting five): 20 games: Score-5(18.4ppg), 4.8rpg, Assists-4(7.0apg), 1.2spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 83.9%, in May’14 moved to EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (Italy-SerieA): 1 game: 2pts, 1ast. You came and won. In the short time you were there what did you feel was so special about that constellation of players?
The special thing about the Milan team was their depth. We had very good Italian players like Melli who is with Bamberg now and we had American keith Langford. He was pretty dominant then and still playing well today. We also had a very good coach.
In the 2010-2011 season you won the France Pro A with Sluc Nancy. How much fun was it playing with diminutive point guard John Linehan? Where do you rank him in all-time best guard teammates as a professional?
He is probably the best full court defender I have ever seen. He made guys not want to dribble the ball at him. Guys would be resistant to bringing the ball up the court.
You were with the Washington Wizards (NBA) in preseason in 2007. What kind of experience was that for you and did you feel you realistically had a chance of making the team?
I know that basketball wise I should have made it. It was just the wrong time for me. It was a time when Gilbert Arenas was about to enter free agency and the club wanted to open up as much cap space as possible. They didn´t keep anyone. Not even guys from the previous season. For me it was a great experience learning from guys like Antwan Jamison, Caron Butler, Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Hayward.
You won the Bulgarian title from 2008-2010 with Lukoil Academik Sofia. Which title was most difficult to win?
The first one was the most special. We had accomplished two things that season that had never been done before in Bulgaria. We had an undefeated season and reached the last 16 in ULEB Cup.
You put up huge stats in this time. Was this your strongest phase as a professional in terms of your game?
I think my strongest season was with Volgograd where led the VTB in efficiency was first in assists and second in scoring.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in 2003 in Europe with Ilysiakos Athens (Greece-A) where you knew that you were very far away from home?
My wake up call was not getting paid all the time. That was one of the reasons that I never went back to play. But loved Athens and it was the most fun I had in Europe. The Greek league don’t have their finances in order.
You played three and a half years in Russia. What was the craziest experience that you ever had there with weather?
We went to play in Siberia and it was -40C
You started your college basketball career in 1998 at Boston College and then transferred to Purdue where you played from 2000-2003. How did head coach Gene Keady groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Keady preached discipline and details. He enforced it and made you aware of it. He helped me develop further as a player at Purdue.
What memories do you have of then freshman David Teague? He won the scoring title in Germany in 2010 and once lit up Alba Berlin for 35 points. Did you already notice then that he had a scoring gene growing in him?
Yes he always had that’ scoring instinct from the first day that he came. I saw him as a recruit. He was a great scorer and was pretty tall for a two guard which allowed him to shoot over smaller defenders.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that made the NBA?
The best guy I ever saw, I didn´t play against. I was red shirted and saw Jamal Crawford put on a show at Michigan. I knew form that game that he would be going to the NBA.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
I like big men. My top three would be Kareem, Hakeem Olajuwon and Jordan.
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
He and Magic are the top two most versatile of all-time for me.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
I see him at the top with Tim Duncan, Karl Malone and Kevin Mchale.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I saw two documentaries Vaxxed and 13th.
Thanks Willie for the chat.
Players come and go each season so developing an identity with one player over a longer period of time in the EasyCredit BBL at times can be as difficult as it is for Oklahoma Thunder fans for getting used to the fact that a Kevin Durat isn´t getting fed any longer from Russell Westbrook, but moreover from sniper Steph Curry. Of course there are so many exciting players to watch each weekend as so many bring their own special rare spice to the court, but there are really few players left that have been around in the league for a long time except for guys like Julius Jenkins and Immanuel Mcelroy who are riding out their stellar careers in Jena, but there are also other guys like Rickey Paudling and Quantez Robertson who battled each other head to head since 2009 and just coming to the arena to watch them duel is worth the price of admission as they have been top players in the league for years. Together they have amassed 19 years and this season Paulding is in his 13th season and Robertson is in his eighth professional season. They have had some very interesting battles over the years as Robertson usually is on the floor having to stop the others team best players as well as supply his freak athleticism as well as his all-around play as he can fill up the stats sheet deep the way Tom Brady can NFL records. Paulding on the other hand is the bona fide leader that has been one of the most consistent offensive performers in the BBL since his arrival in 2007. His overall play and character have made him one of the BBL identity figures for years. Paulding is 34 and Robertson is 31 and it is hard to believe that between them, they only share three professional titles, but knowing the competitiveness of both guys and will to keep performing at a high level, they will probably play some more years.
Flashing that big smile and showing those shiny whiteys after a very hard fought 40 minute battle with victory glistening all over their bright faces like John John from Sesame Street after remembering that 16 comes after 15 in his counting challenge with the lovable Herry back in the day is something that many American players have come to have practiced in the BBL over the years. No guys have displayed their pleasure of winning in the form of a excited smile over the years in the Beko BBL better then guys like former Fraport Skyliner Jimmy Mckinney ,ex Rhein Cologne point guard Michael Hakim Jordan who actually should of tried his go at Hollywood after his few masterful scenes in the German documentary Phoenix in Der Asche, but instead is an assistant at Colgate university which name is also the name of a well-known American tooth paste company. Rickey Paulding who is also known as Mr Oldenburg or if the city should ever be renamed then it would be fitting to call it in typical German manner Pauldingburg as he has made the comfortable city in north Germany his home since 2007 and never turned his back. The former NBA Draft Pick of hometown team Detroit Pistons is also a guy who can smile with the best of them. His enjoyment and smiling were at their all-time high in 2009 when the EWE Baskets Oldenburg won their first league title at the expense of the Telekom Baskets Bonn in a tough 5 game series. However between 2009-2015 a span of almost 6 years, the American went without a title, but reached a final against the Brose Baskets Bamberg in 2013.
Whenever May comes around in Germany, it means the first sign of warm weather, people showing off their newest shades in the café´s, men drooling again at the sight of mini-skirts moving with the motion of the cool spring breeze and family´s doing bike trips on the weekends when the spring weather is nice. On the basketball side, it is time again for the Beko BBL playoffs and one player that seems to have an almost guarantee pass to the being able to battle for that coveted title is Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding who has been their eight out of nine seasons since his arrival to Oldenburg in 2007. However in those eight attempts, he has only been able to win one title which was in 2009 as the EWE Baskets Oldenburg beat the Telekom Baskets Bonn in one of the more memorable final´s series in the history of the Beko BBL. Paulding and co were close a few years back reaching the final and despite being swept by the Brose Baskets Bamberg lost the three game series with only a combined seven points. Paulding isn´t getting any younger at age 33, but he still plays like a 27 year old and seems like his body is ageless as he still looks as fresh on the floor like a young buck belonging to the top 5 perimeter players in the Beko BBL as his consistency over the years with age has been commendable. Especially at age 33, every new playoffs experience has to be of big worth for the ex Missouri(NCAA) player as he doesn´t know if it might be his last. It is never good to look ahead, but the American probably has realized that there could be a possible semi-final date with the Fraport Skyliners, a team that not only he wants to seek revenge on, but also his teammates. This season, the Fraport Skyliners won a do or die game in January for the ticket to the Beko BBL cup final 4 in Munich and recently were easily disposed of in Frankfurt as they couldn´t find a remedy to stop their lethal ball movement. Two facts riding on the side of Paulding who can compete with the best American smiles in the Beko BBL when he displays his wide grin and glistening white teeth, in that he beat Frankfurt back in 2009 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs and also has beat ratiopharm Ulm in the playoffs in a hard five game series . Paulding wants more after winning his second title last season with the cup on his own floor as he wants another title to make him a tad more immortal in Oldenburg even if achieving it this season will be a difficult task with the competition level, but not many expected it in 2009 either.
In the last three months one of the hottest teams in the Beko BBl have been the EWE Baskets Oldenburg who have been like a runaway train led by 257 pound beast Brian Qvale lending that scoring and physical trait with supporting cast Ricky Paulding and Vaughn Duggins on the wings as nobody has been able to stop them as they were riding a magnificent 12 game winning streak. In this glorious Beko BBL run, the club had scored more than 100 points three times and even if they played 60 percent lower ranked teams, they were able to beat two teams battling for a playoff spot with the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg and the Giessen 46ers and also defeated two of the top three with the Brose Baskets Bamberg and Alba Berlin. What really has been most impressive is thatnthe EWE Baskets Oldenburg had been able to beat these four times in crunch time and seem on a good way heading into the playoffs where winning these nail bitters are very important in a close series. For a guy like Mr Oldenburg Ricky Paulding who has played 350 Beko BBL games coming into the showdown against the Fraport Skyliners, he is a guy who could probably tell you exactly where he scored certain points in his career in the Fraport Skyliners living room. Paulding also will remember that the last game that his club lost before they started this long winning streak was the do or die game on January 20th as the Fraport Skyliners secured their ticket for the 2016 Beko BBL cup final 4 in Munich with a 80-68 victory. In that game, the EWE baskets Oldenburg stayed with the Fraport Skyiners well being down at halftime 44-43, but a devastating 17-5 in the third quarter Frankfurt run broke the back of Paulding and co as Frankfurt marched to Munich with their heads held high. Not only was the revenge factor big for the EWE baskets Oldenburg, but the game also witnessed a new rematch of the brothers of another mother Jordan Theodore and ex NBA player Scott Machado who grew up on balling and dreaming of a professional career at the Dyckman playground in the Washington/Heights section of New York. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg wanted revenge while the Fraport Skyliners wanted to notch a win and secure home court advantage and travel to Berlin with a lot of self-confidence for their next game on Sunday with 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin and did as Oldenburg went down in Frankfurt for the second straight time this season losing 78-63 and securing home court advantage in the playoffs. It was another great team effort for the Fraport Skyliners where they really buckled down on defense in the second half allowing Oldenburg to only to 25 points. When one plays against a talented offensive team like Oldenburg totally shutting down everyone is about as uncommon as keeping A Jordan Theodore clear from the lane, but the Fraport Skyliners did a super job holding Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding to only six points and not letting Vaughn Duggins and Brian Qvale to totally explode as they were limited combined to 24 points. “We played Skyliner basketball once again. I feel that we really put together a good 40 minutes of basketball. Even when we did get down, we never worried about it, but just concentrated on the next play and getting the job done. We played good defense and moved the ball never dwelling on mistakes. This was a huge game where we were playing for third place. We came to play”, stressed Fraport Skyliners guard Jordan Theodore. For the EWE Baskets Oldenburg winning had been a very normal thing in the last months, but in Frankfurt they hit a stone wall that even that gave their players difficulty coming up with answers as to why they couldn´t continue their winning streak on the road. “Like always Frankfurt defended very well. Frankfurt dictated the tempo with their defense and we just didn´t shoot the ball well. We missed too many easy lay ups and we had to work a lot harder to get open shots on offense”, added EWE Baskets Oldenburg guard Philipp Schwethelm.