Nick Collison, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s resident patriarch of the franchise, 15 year vet, and one of the select few who remained with the same franchise throughout, is hanging up his high tops.
In a press release today, Collison announced his retirement from the NBA.
“My goal was always to make a career out of basketball, and I was blessed to be in the NBA for 15 seasons...As my time as a basketball player comes to an end, I’m so grateful for my family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans, my hometown, Kansas University, the Thunder organization and everyone else who has helped me along the way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It has been an incredible journey that I’m proud of, and it would not have been possible to do it on my own.”
Collison came into the NBA at the #12 pick with the famed draft class of 2003, which included LeBron James (1), Carmelo Anthony (3), Dwyane Wade (5), Chris Bosh (4), and Kyle Korver (51). And in fact, three of those guys (Collison, Wade, Carmelo) all competed in the 2003 NCAA Final Four, with Melo’s Orangemen defeating Collison’s Jayhawk team in the Final.
In Collison’s own words, as told to ESPN reporter and long time Thunder beat writer Royce Young:
I remember thinking, “Are we good? I think we’re good.”
Nobody knew at the time that there were two MVPs -- and a likely future one -- in that gym.
I’ve played with some incredible players, future Hall of Famers, and had the unique experience of spending my entire career with one franchise, but in two different cities.
I started in cold gyms in small towns in Iowa and ended up playing in more than 1,000 games over 15 years in the best league in the world. I’ve had an incredible run. I’m proud of my career.
But it’s time to go. I’m retiring from competitive basketball.
(read the whole thing)
Thunder GM Sam Presti had this to say:
“Sometimes, in the early phases of an organization’s life cycle, the right player comes around at the right time to help define their vision...For the Thunder, Nick Collison was one of those players. Nick has helped define the standards we work by on a day-to-day basis, on and off the court and has become synonymous with the Thunder shield. He is a craftsman; tough, selfless and humble. He brought the best of himself his entire career each day he walked through the door. As result of his consistency and longevity, his contributions to our culture and community will have a lasting effect. That is rare in any industry, but especially professional sports. Many thanks to Nick and his wonderful family for being such an important part to writing our history and helping to set the course. In doing so, he has set the standards for professionalism and consistency for the years ahead and therefore, will always be part of the Thunder.”
It is the hope and expectation that Collison won’t be far away, as many expect he will soon join the Thunder front office.
And if not? I’m sure we can spot him on holiday with fellow lad Steven Adams.
Dom Flaim: I’m reading the farewell article at work and choking up :(. Gonna miss Nick.
Kevin Nesgoda: Nick was one of my favorite Sonic players ever. I will never forget the time he bought me a bacon wrapped meatloaf sandwich and we hung out in Madison Park. I know it’s not OKC related, but I’ve known Nick since he was a rookie.
J.A. Sherman: Every team needs a stabilizing force who is fully invested in the team’s culture, regardless of what appears on the court. But even then, nobody throws a backdoor cut like Nick.
R.K. Anthony: Nick was the rock this team leaned on and he will be missed. I will never forget Game 6 against the Clippers in 2014. Serge was out of the game, Nick stepped in and took a young Steven Adams under his wing and showed him how to do it when the bright lights are on.
Two orders of business, Sam Presti, one, add this man on your coaching roster, two, make plans to hang his jersey from the rafters of Chesapeake Energy Arena. No one deserves it more.
The Oklahoman requested via the Thunder a statement from Russell Westbrook about Nick Collison’s retirement. This is that statement (edited for content): “F****** LEGEND!!!”— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) May 11, 2018