Nick Collison is an NBA junkie's wunderkind love child. Yes we're always going to be enraptured with Kevin Durant's basketball genius and Russell Westbrook's primal aggression, but I would argue that there is also something mesmerizing and wonderful about the game that Collison brings to the court. That's a lot of love for a guy who only averages about 20 minutes on the court and has never, not once, averaged double figures scoring.
How could one guy so well represent himself as a master of his domain? I would argue that it is because Collison is one of the few athletes who gets the NBA on a fundamental level. He understands where he has come from (success in college at Kansas), what he had to struggle through (there was a stretch where Nick's team won only 74 games over the course of 3 seasons) and where he is now (defending Western Conference champs, 3 wins away from the NBA title).
Collison knows that he is playing along side several of the elite players that walk the court in this NBA. Between guys like Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, Collison's slow and steady floor game would seem ill-fit to the kind of high-flying theatrics that we think of in OKC. However, Collison knows that in order to not just sell tickets, but to win games, the details of the game must be observed as well. Whether it is a off-ball screen, a timely assist, defending the other team's best post-player, or even hitting the mid-range jumper, Collison seldom fails in his job role. In fact, his gritty play inspired this montage:
However, that's not all. Collison has also carved out a nice little niche as one of the NBA's best spokesmen for understanding the NBA lifestyle. At GQ, Collison has periodically written some phenomenal blog posts about what it is like in the NBA, not just for a championship contending team, but for an individual like himself who is simply trying to carve out a career niche where his value is realized. This led to two of my most favorite Nick Collison things:
1) This quote, as an answer to a fan's question about what goes on inside the team plane:
I'm on the plane right now, so let me fill you in. Kendrick Perkins is knitting a sweater. He's really into knitting. Scarves, sweaters, mittens, etc. Russell has his pottery wheel out again. It makes a mess but it helps him relax after games. He made me a vase. It's sooooo dope. Hasheem, Reggie, Perry, DeAndre and Jeremy Lamb are in a heated debate over which budget cuts congress needs to make in a debt reduction deal. Actually, it's kind of hard for me to write with all the yelling. Serge is painting a portrait of Thabo while Thabo paints a portrait of Serge painting a portrait of him. KD and Eric are playing Jenga, while all the coaches shoot dice.
2) Collison revealed the players' respective nicknames. Which now means that we can call ourselves insiders by referring to Reggie Jackson as "Mr. October," and why Serge Ibaka's nickname is...Serge.
Whether on the court or off, Collison is truly a master of his domain.
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