Basketball: Rickey Paulding: I hope Oldenburg will remain Pauldingburg for a long time – basketball

The Basketball Bundesliga loses one of its biggest stars. Rickey Paulding (39) has been playing for Oldenburg since 2007. With a total of 7959 points in 15 seasons, the Ami ended his career as the second most successful thrower in BBL history. On Saturday (6 p.m.) he will play for the Baskets one last time in a big farewell game.

In the BILD interview, Paulding talks about his best moments and gives the fans hope for a reunion in Oldenburg.

BILD: Mr. Paulding, when you started your time in Oldenburg, did you ever think that you would play for this club for such a long time?

Paulding: “No (laughs). I couldn’t even have imagined that I would play at all at that age. But then the years passed, my family was happy, my body played along. And Oldenburg always wanted to keep me. All of this is what made me stay in the city for so long.”

BILD: Have you ever seriously considered leaving the club?

Paulding: “There was always an opportunity. Of course I thought about that. But in the end, Oldenburg has always been the best for me and my family.”

BILD: Was there a specific moment when you knew you would end your active career here in Oldenburg?

Paulding: “When we won the cup in 2015 and then played well throughout the season, it was clear to me: I want to play for Oldenburg until the end of my career.”

BILD: What does this city mean to you?

Paulding: “Oldenburg means a lot to me. This has been my home for the last 15 years. My three children know no other city better than this one. We always felt welcome here, we enjoyed that and will always remember it.”

BILD: Even after 15 years, you still prefer speaking English to German. Do you regret that you didn’t start learning the language sooner?

Paulding: “It annoys me a lot. It would have made sense to learn German properly. In hindsight, I would have done it differently. Then I would certainly have received more interview requests (laughs). I understand a lot, but my language is really not good.”

BILD: These fans call the city “Pauldingburg”. There’s a huge painting of you by the arena. How does that feel?

Paulding: “I had to learn to appreciate that. It still feels weird when I hear that. I’m still a bit uncomfortable talking about it. But I see it as appreciation for my achievements.”

Photo: Facebook/EWE & Photo: Ulf Duda

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The fans love him: a painting by Paulding has adorned a huge wall in Oldenburg since 2016Photo: Facebook/EWE & Photo: Ulf Duda

BILD: Now you will turn your back on the city and move back to the USA. Do you have a new name for the fans now that you have retired?

Paulding: “I can’t think of anything new at first. The fans have to think about that. But I hope Oldenburg will stay Pauldingburg for a while (laughs).”

BILD: In European basketball, it is common for professionals to only stay with a club for one or two years. You are the exception. Would you also recommend other players to play longer for a club?

Paulding: “It’s definitely different for everyone. I wanted my family to settle in one place. That’s why it was important for me to stay for a long time. I would also recommend it to other professionals with a family. But young players in particular need to know what is most important for their career.”

BILD: In 15 years you have experienced a lot with Oldenburg. What were the most beautiful moments?

Paulding: “The championship in 2009 and the cup victory in 2015 were very special. I remember the 2017 playoff series against Ulm. I hit an unbelievable throw in overtime in one game, and then we turned the game around. An amazing feeling.”

BILD: And what do you not like to think about?

Paulding: “The worst moment was in 2013 in the final series against Bamberg when I was injured and couldn’t play. At that time, my wife was still in the USA and gave birth to my daughter. I couldn’t help my team and missed the birth. That made me incredibly sad.”

BILD: Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

Paulding: “I would have liked to move to Oldenburg straight after college (laughs). Joking aside, I’m happy with the path I’ve taken. I played in Israel and France for the first three years. When I came to Oldenburg, I knew that I wanted to stay longer.”

BILD: On Saturday you run out in front of the Oldenburg fans for the last time. Your big farewell game is completely sold out. How many tears will you shed?

Paulding: “We’ll see when the moment comes. But there will be tears of joy. I’m just going to enjoy it with the fans and my family. It will be very special, I’ve never experienced anything like it. But I will finally play without pressure. I am looking forward. I hope I can really soak up the moment.”

BILD: What’s next after Saturday?

Paulding: “I will first have to recover and get used to life in the USA. We’re moving back to Kansas City. First of all, my role as a father will be in the foreground. But I’m sure basketball will continue to be a part of my life.”

BILD: Will the fans even see you on the sidelines again in Oldenburg?

Paulding: “I don’t see myself as a coach in the future right now. But if the club needs me in another role, then I’m happy to come. Maybe I’ll be living in Oldenburg again in five years. We’ll see when the time comes.”



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