Kevin Ollie's NBA odyssey

By John Rohde Modified: October 28, 2009 at 3:04 am •  Published: October 28, 2009
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Kevin Ollie should be the NBA’s official spokesman on perseverance. He also should sign a deal with a moving company.

The 36-year-old is about to start his 13th NBA season. That’s an impressive run for any player, especially an undrafted point guard with career averages of 3.8 points and 2.3 assists.

Ollie has made 15 stops in the NBA, tying Tony Massenburg’s league record.

Oklahoma City will be Ollie’s 12th NBA city and 11th different franchise, which is one short of the league record.

Ollie has played with the Philadelphia 76ers on three separate occasions.

He has played with the Seattle SuperSonics and is now with the Thunder, which is the same, yet different.

Tonight’s season opener against the Sacramento Kings at the Ford Center will mark Ollie’s 10th opening night with a different team.

He will wear jersey No. 7 for the Thunder, which will be his seventh different number in the league, preceded by 3, 15, 5, 2, 12, 8 and 12 again.

Ollie also played four seasons in the CBA, one in the USBL and became an NBA rookie at age 25.

He’s the guy nobody keeps, but everybody seems to want.

Some teams still seek the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, who played at Crenshaw (Calif.) High School and was on the ground floor of helping Connecticut become a collegiate power.

Ollie started 21 of 50 games for Minnesota last season and the Timberwolves wanted him to stick around as a free agent, but Ollie chose to move. Again.

The Thunder didn’t go after Ollie on a whim. "He was a specific target for us,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said.

Presti first noticed Ollie when he was on his third stint with the Sixers and Presti was in the San Antonio Spurs’ front office.

In an empty arena, Ollie was working with younger players on his team. It wasn’t a game of H-O-R-S-E or a Night at the Improv. Ollie was sharing advice, drilling fundamentals and shaping impressionable minds.

That vision stuck with Presti’s, who acquired Ollie last summer.

NBA.com recently conducted its annual general manager survey. Maurice Cheeks and Ron Adams both received votes for the league’s best assistant coach. Ollie received votes in the category "Which active player will make the best head coach someday?”

When Thunder coach Scott Brooks met Ollie during summer-league play in Las Vegas, "I told him, ’I don’t need a coach yet.


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