When you ask a young German basketball fan about the surname Olinde, he will probably mention ALBA Berlin forward Louis Olinde, one of the most interesting prospects in the country. Olinde, age 22, is a versatile, 2.05-meter swingman in his third Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season.
If you ask a veteran fan about the same surname, however, he will likely mention Wilbert Olinde, Louis's father. Wilbert led Goettingen to German League titles in 1980, 1983 and 1984. While playing basketball, he graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of Goettingen, became a German citizen and, in 2003, started his own business as a management consultant and mental trainer.
"He's from San Diego, actually. And then he came to Germany to play basketball, one of the first Americans that came to Germany to play. He was pretty good as well, played for Goettingen. They won the championship a couple of times and also the German Cup. So I am trying to follow in his footsteps and maybe win some championships as well," Louis Olinde told us.
"I am trying to follow in his footsteps."
Wilbert Olinde played college basketball at UCLA and was coached by the legendary John Wooden. Olinde helped UCLA win the NCAA title in 1975, in Coach Wooden's last season with the team that he had coached since 1948! Growing up, Louis heard a lot of things about Coach Wooden from his father.
"My father told me a lot of stories about practices and games. I think that [Wooden] was a great, great basketball genius," Louis told us. "He was always telling me that John Wooden focused on one player each practice, and he would write down what that player was doing. But you never knew who he was watching, so everybody gave 110 percent, because he was always sitting with a flip chart and looking at the players. If you did something bad, you would look at John Wooden and maybe he would write it down, or not. So the players would try to figure out who was the guy that he was watching each time."
Wooden was also really famous off the court for his coaching ways. He created The Pyramid of Success, built to succeed in basketball and life. When Wooden retired as a coach, he was hired by companies to deliver inspirational lectures. It may be no surprise, then, that Wilbert Olinde took his post-playing career in that direction, too, opening Black Pearl Inspiration, which specializes in team training and coaching in the business world.
"He's an inspiration coach," Louis said of his father. "He's working with people to get better at whatever they want to do, to sharpen their mindset. And then also in companies: relation between co-workers, how to how to work together better, how to find ways to solve problems. That's what he's doing. Pretty successful as well."
Wilbert Olinde has done more than help his clients, too. A book about him – "Germany for a Season - The true story of Wilbert Olinde, Jr." – was published in 2017.
"It's about his story growing up in America, for sure having problems with racism over there back then in the 60s and the 70s, and then coming to Germany and having that great experience in Germany," Louis says. "And then for sure, having a family now in Germany. He's German, as well, and he speaks German fluently, and is here for 40 years. I think he feels more like a German than an American right now."
Wilbert Olinde, who retired in 1987 due to cancer, but survived to start his own second career, is an inspiration to his son, too.
"He inspired me on many different levels, for sure," Louis says. "His move coming from the States, not knowing what is in Germany, just being super curious and just taking a chance. And then taking that chance to see what life brings you after, you never know. He probably never planned to play in Germany or to live in Germany for 40 or 50 years but now he is. So just take chances and be open for everything new."
As a former pro player and a motivational speaker, it is logical to think that Wilbert would give Louis a lot of advice – and he does, but not as often as you might think.
"Sometimes, sometimes, not always!" Louis says with a laugh. "We would talk after games, just send some text messages back and forth. He would tell me what he saw and not just on the basketball level but also off the court: behavior, kind of stuff like that.
"For sure, whenever I have any question, any need of advice, I know I can reach out to him. I'm very thankful for that. But at the same time, he's saying it's my career, it is my decision and, you know, I should do whatever I want, not whatever he would do. Because it's my life, obviously."
"I know I can reach out to him."
Black Pearl, the name of his company, was also Wilbert Olinde's nickname as a player in Germany. His son, who debuted in the EuroLeague for Brose Bamberg two days after his 19th birthday in 2018, has been able to watch old videos and compare the game then to what he has seen during his three seasons now in Europe's top competition.
"I watched a couple of games of his on YouTube and it's just... it's way different game," Louis says. "You can't compare, especially in EuroLeague. It is very, very physical right now and very athletic as well. And much, much quicker, much faster than it was. Back then there was a lot of dribbling up the court, a lot of basics, a lot of mid-range shooting, as well. And now it's just a sprint, fastbreak, catch-and-shoot, three-pointers just... a lot of dunks, a lot of plays above the rim."
Still at a younger age than his father was when he first came to Germany, Louis Olinde hopes to someday match his father's success.
"For sure, he has the advantage when it comes to championships and cups," he laughs. "But I'm trying to get there – and then we can talk again."