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Kevin Ollie to jump into coaching after 13 years in the NBA

Jul 3, 2010, 3:15 AM EDT

Kevin Ollie has never been a particularly great basketball player, but that didn’t stop him managing a long, consistent NBA run. From his rookie year to his career’s twilight, Ollie never averaged more than 6.5 points, 3.6 assists, or 23.1 minutes per game in any given campaign. He only registered a 10+ PER in five of his 13 seasons. Ollie took roster spots that may not have belonged to him, played wholly unspectacular minutes, and now will leave the league without making so much of a blemish on it; after 13 years and 15 teams, Kevin Ollie will finally hang them up and make the transition from player to coach.

According to Mark Deeks (a.k.a. Sham Sports), Ollie will return to his alma mater, UConn, to become an assistant coach. It’s a good move for Kevin, who has long been flagged as one of the “coach-in-playing” candidates the NBA has to offer.

Though Ollie’s NBA career was largely forgettable, he could really thrive as a teacher. Kevin was never the most talented athlete around, but the fact that he was able to stay in the NBA for so long does mean something. Even if the league’s obsession with recycling is partially to blame, Ollie worked hard to stay on the top side of the fringe, and he has a long career to show because of it.

The world goes on, and everything in free agency rightfully trumps Ollie’s transition. Still, Kevin could follow in the footsteps of other relatively unsuccessful NBAers who went on to be prominent coaches. After all, there has to be some secret in hanging around the league for so long despite being a sub-par athlete, an unheralded and undrafted NBA prospect (he actually played two years in the CBA before being picked up by the Mavs for the 1997-1998 season), and lacking in any one specialized skill.

  1. arsenalrules - Jul 3, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    “Sub-par athlete”? “Took roster spots that may not have belonged to him”? “Largely forgettable”?
    You sure spend a lot of paragraphs (4) and words to write about the retirement of a player you mock for having an obscure NBA career.
    And in such personal, harsh terms, too.
    What happened? Did Kevin Ollie refuse to give you an autograph when you saw him out at dinner – at some point during his “forgettable” 13-year NBA career?

  2. Mike - Jul 3, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    I agree. This article was needlessly offensive and lacking in overall class. I am still not entirely sure what basis the writer has for accusing Ollie of “taking roster spots that may not have belonged to him.” As if NBA teams make a habit of handing over one year contracts, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, for purely sentimental reasons. While Ollie may not have been the most gifted athlete, and never a star, he made a career out of relentless hard work, professionalism, and being a team player. Furthermore, what makes Ollie’s NBA tenure “relatively unsuccessful”? Based on whose career standards? How many college players, drafted or not, stick around the league for as long as Ollie did only to leave for a prime coaching position at one of the nation’s best college programs? My guess is “relatively” few. Ollie had a successful pro career and will make a terrific coach.

  3. mike - Jul 3, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    I have followed UConn for about the last 20 years, I went to UConn and even was a radio broadcaster for UConn when I was there.
    Ollie was a class act at all times. Came back to help during the summers, played in charity games to try to help Coach Calhoun. His career at UConn and in the NBA was never given the consideration as other flashy point guards, but he always knew what to do with the ball and where to go. Sometimes people think PGs should be like Derrick Rose and able to score. Many true PGs are able to have other people be successful, Ollie was exactly that type of guard. I think he will be an excellent coach on the next level.

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