Former Sonic Nick Collison announced his retirement from the NBA on Thursday via Instagram:
Today I’m retiring from the NBA after 15 seasons. There have been so many people in Iowa Falls, Lawrence, Seattle, and OKC that have helped me along the way. I can’t really find words to say to my family here so I wont try. I will do my best to let all these people know how much I appreciate them. I love my teammates. I will miss the moments with them most. Thank you to the fans that have supported me and our teams all these years. I got to feel the love for a long time. I am grateful. It’s my time to go. I got to be here for a long time. I’m looking forward to what comes next. THANK YOU!
…and in an ESPN article in his own words as told to Royce Young.
His retirement leaves just two current players that actually wore a Seattle Sonics uniform in the NBA: Jeff Green and Kevin Durant.
While Green will continue to play and Durant will be in the Hall of Fame, Collison was the only one that was a part of playoff teams in Seattle and played with the new franchise for the rest of his career.
Collison was the consummate team player, a blue collar worker that “brought his lunch pail with him everyday.” In his retirement video on Instagram, he says that he wasn’t “talented enough to last” and had to “play the game the right way.” He played the right way on and off the court enough to last for 15 years in the toughest basketball league in the world, ingratiating himself to multiple fan bases in multiple cities.
Nick’s story is something you don’t hear about much anymore in the NBA. He had a stellar four year career at Kansas, was a consensus All American as a senior, and even National Association of Basketball Coaches Player of the Year, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. He got hurt as a rookie, came back to be a starter on a playoff team, then became the leader of a second unit fulfilling his destiny as the best big guy off the bench for a very competitive Oklahoma City team that reached the NBA Finals.
Of late, he’s transitioned to the old sage not getting many minutes but contributing when he was called upon.
In his last NBA game, he played just over 5 minutes, scoring 7 points and pulling 2 rebounds in crunch time against the Spurs on March 10th, 2018. Mark Jackson, calling the game, said that he’d ”take him with the number 1 pick in the rec league. Without question” and finished with Jeff Van Gundy saying “I want to stand for Nick Collison”.
Players like him don’t usually get send offs from the franchise’s star player, like this from his last regular season game with Russell Westbrook.
Collison wasn’t a normal 15 year NBA player, but he was a normal person. He wrote for GQ, he came back to Seattle every summer, he went back to an apartment in his college town during the lockout, he commuted to see his daughter, he openly discussed what it was like to be in the NBA the same way other people talk about their jobs.
My favorite edition of his GQ guest blog was entitled ”How to Survive in the NBA when You’re Not a Superstar” in which he wrote
”The hard part is being able to have the focus to do it over and over again, knowing you aren’t going to get a lot of credit. Doing a great job of talking on defense won’t get you any high-paying endorsement deals. Nobody is making a YouTube mix of all your badass screens with a Rick Ross track playing over it. (I’m not saying I would complain if someone did this for me.)”
In the ESPN article, Nick makes his feelings about the move from Seattle clear, stating:
KeyArena was loud and the city was with us -- I absolutely loved it. I love Seattle, and I’ve spent every summer there since I was drafted. I loved being a SuperSonic, and hate how it ended there. I had four coaches in my five years, and then Howard Schultz sold the team to Clay Bennett.
The fans knew we were gone. They stopped coming, and I don’t blame them.
Our last season in Seattle we were 20-62, and there was a lawsuit after it to hold the team to its arena lease. But after the mayor took a settlement, we were moving to Oklahoma.
I learned an important lesson: The NBA is a business and all the parties involved will always act in their own best interests. The fans in Seattle deserved better, and I hope they get a team back someday soon.
We wish you were able to spend your whole career in Seattle. We appreciate your authenticity and willingness to speak about the Sonics moving from Seattle. We’ll look for you in the water at Seafair, at Laredo’s now that you’re too old for Pesos, at Seattle Center and in the parks with your daughter during another beautiful Seattle summer.
We can’t wait until the team comes back soon and you are there for some games, too.