After 15 years in the NBA — all of which were played with the Seattle/Oklahoma City franchise — Nick Collison is retiring from the game of basketball. He leaves at 37 years of age after being drafted 12th overall in the 2003 draft, telling ESPN’s Royce Young, “I’ve had an incredible run. I’m proud of my career. But it’s time to go.”
A mainstay in the Oklahoma City community, Collison hangs up his sneakers having played the third-most games (910) in SuperSonics/Thunder history. He’s also fourth on the franchise’s all-time rebounding list (4,701), sixth in blocks (469), and fifth in field goal percentage (53.3%). Not bad for a “glue guy”, but his impact was always most felt by what he contributed in intangibles. As such, he is perhaps the fan’s most beloved member of the Thunder outside of Russell Westbrook.
In a story told to Royce Young by Collison himself, Collison thanked the fans by saying:
“I’ve been in OKC 10 years now, and the fans have been incredible. They are there every night; they know the game and appreciate effort. From day one we felt the love, and I want everyone to know I’ve loved playing in Oklahoma City.
It’s always meant so much to me and my family that the people of Oklahoma City appreciated what I did. Most people don’t get to feel anything like that. I’ve had it for 10 years and I am grateful.”
He went on to mention his teammates — including a certain number 35:
“I love my teammates. My best friends in the world were my first teammates in Iowa Falls. Kirk Hinrich is the toughest guy I played with. Brent Barry has been a mentor to me. Royal Ivey is like a brother to me.
I love KD. I miss him. I played my best basketball with James. I wish we would have had more time. I feel like a proud big brother watching Russ become both the player and the man that he is. I really appreciate all the battles we’ve been through.
I love Perk, A-Mo, Dre. Luke Ridnour gave me terrible haircuts, but the way he puts his family above everything has inspired me to be a better father.
Serge and Thabo cleaned up a lot of our mistakes and didn’t get enough credit. I learned a lot from D-Fish.
Steven Adams is special. He has a unique mix of humility, ability, toughness, and he will do anything for one of his guys. And he has such a sick sense of humor — I love it. I can’t name all the guys I played with here, but I hope all of them knew I wanted to win with them above anything else.”
While Collison’s retirement has long been expected, it still feels like a punch in the gut having it become official. Many believe his jersey will be the first retired by the Thunder organization — a belief I certainly agree with. In a parting message on Instagram, Collison posted the following video.
For more from Collison, read this: