During an NBA career that covered parts of 13 seasons, Kevin Ollie earned league-wide respect as a tough, smart, and savvy point guard. He may have not achieved all-star status, but to the countless players he mentored, Ollie was an MVP.
"Kevin Ollie, he was a game-changer for us. He changed the whole culture, I think. He might not say it, but I think he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City. [Ollie's] mindset, his professionalism, every single day. And you know, everybody that comes through now, there's a standard you've got to live up to as a Thunder player. And that started with Kevin Ollie."--Kevin Durant, 2013-14 NBA MVP and former teammate of Ollie, telling Bill Simmons of the B.S Report on ESPN.com
Lebron James and Ollie were teammates in Cleveland during the 2003-2004 season. James recently told NBA.com Ollie had a profound impact on his development.
"You could tell he had that coaching gene in him. Obviously, he helped us out on the floor but I think more than anything in the locker room and off the floor is where I benefited most from being around him. He just had that professionalism that you cannot get from first-, second- or third-year guys. He still looks the same in a suit on the sideline coaching for the Huskies as he did for us wearing No. 12."
After his NBA career ended, Ollie returned to UConn as an assistant coach under Jim Calhoun. The Hall of Fame coach recruited Ollie out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles and mentored him both as a player and coach. In March 2014, he told the North Palm Beach Post all about Ollie's DNA.
"Mr. Tough Guy. You don't go four years playing with guys like Ray Allen and Donyell Marshall, then average seven points a game and carve out a 13-year NBA career. You know how tough you have to be? You know how smart you have to be?"