We are roughly one-fifth of the way into the tenth NBA season without the Seattle Supersonics in the league. Few players remain from the final team to wear the green and gold. In fact, the number is only four. Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Damien Wilkins (who has worked his way back into the league after years in the NBA Gatorade League), and Nick Collison. Of those four, Collison is the only one still with the Thunder. He recently sat down with Basketball Insiders’ Joel Brigham to discuss his time in the Emerald City.
“I had never been to Seattle. I didn’t know much about it at all, but I was excited about it. It was the first place I lived after college.”
Collison was born and raised in Iowa and went to college in Kansas. He was a Midwest boy through and through. So what did he think of the Pacific Northwest?
“Seattle offered me things I hadn’t experienced before. It was a bigger city, but I really just kinda came home. I lived there all year round, bought a house on the lake that I still own.
“It’s a cool city, and I made a lot of friends there.”
So when things started coming to a head between the team and the city and a divorce was looking likely, how did Collison feel then?
“No one really even knew that [the former ownership group led by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz] were looking to sell the team until they announced it was sold, and I remember that I was shocked,” Collison said. “The team was sold to these guys from Oklahoma, and people didn’t know what it meant. They didn’t know if we’d be leaving right away or what. And then we were there two more years.
“So for two years, we’d get asked about it,” he added. “We didn’t really know anything, and they claimed to be trying to get an arena built in Seattle. It really wasn’t the best situation to play in because so much about our futures was unknown. The city, the fans felt like we were leaving, so they didn’t come out. We weren’t a great team either, which didn’t help.
“I still felt fortunate to be in the NBA, but it was a tough situation to play in those last couple years.”
In a separate article from Bleacher Report, Collison’s Seattle teammate and Blaine, WA native Luke Ridnour added, “The worst part is [the owners] were telling everyone they were going to stay in Seattle. But in the locker room, we all knew we were gone. I don't think anybody wanted to go to OKC, to be honest. It's a good city and they have great fans, but c'mon—it's not Seattle."
In that same article, 2017 NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant also reflected on his time in Seattle, saying "There wasn't a nice view from my house, but once I was on the bridge, beautiful. Water, both sides of you. On a good day, you could see Mount Rainier. Once spring rolled around, I was like, 'This is what Seattle is really about.'“
In fact, former Sonic Earl Watson opined that it was part of the reason Durant went to the Warriors. “I've always wondered why no one ever wrote a piece on why he went to the Bay from that perspective,” Watson said. “Because to me, it's the closest thing to Seattle he could find in the NBA."
Collison has called his Seattle his “adopted hometown” and still has a house here. He once tweeted that he doesn’t know “why anyone would choose to live anywhere else.”
Just finished with first day of sea fair. Wondering why anyone would choose to live anywhere else.— Nick Collison (@nickcollison4) August 2, 2009
Collison also admits that he has kept up with the arena process in Seattle and is rooting for them to get another team.
“I’d love to see a team back there,” he admitted. “I follow all the stuff, the arena proposals and everything. I’d love to see it happen. The hard part is someone else probably would have to move for that to happen, and I know how hard that is for a home base.
“But I’d like to see it happen. I know that it’s a good fan base, and it’s got a lot of history. It’s a great city, you know? It’s kind of hard to believe there’s not a team there already. Just with all the companies that are there, how good the economy is there. Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Costco—there’s a lot of good stuff going on out there.
“So I’d like to see it happen. Maybe expansion then no one’s got to lose their team.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that Seattle is on “a short list” should the league decide to expand. Here’s hoping that day comes. For us, and for Nick Collison.