I was deleting some old interviews recently and came across a session with Thunder forward Nick Collison.
It was a five-minute interview following Game 4 of that triple overtime thriller against Memphis in the second round of the 2011 playoffs. The Thunder won that game, 133-123, a contest that became an instant classic.
That night, Collison was critical.
But Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant garnered the most attention for how they lit up the scoreboard. James Harden was in high demand as well for the wizardry with which he ran the pick-and-roll and kept the Thunder alive.
Collison, meanwhile, was content with quietly creeping out of the locker room. It was well past 1 a.m. He had just played a then playoff career-high 35 minutes against a bruising Grizzlies frontcourt. A charter flight back to Oklahoma City awaited.
But when a small crowd of reporters, four at most, requested to speak with Collison, he obliged. Upon doing so, Collison proceeded to paint the picture of his personality on the court, breaking down his preferred style of play and how he strives to do his job.
“The way I play, I know my value isn’t statistics,” Collison said. “If I tried to play that way I probably wouldn’t be in the league. The things I do, I just try to do them every night and I just try to help us win. It may sound a little cliche but, really, I’m into each possession and those little small victories of getting stops is what gets me going. I’m definitely satisfied with how I played.”
Collison scored four points on 2-for-4 shooting that night. He had five rebounds and five fouls, two steals and one assist.
His primary matchup, Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, scored a team-high 34 points.
Not shown in the single-page final box score is how Randolph, with Collison covering him, scored just 13 points on 2-for-12 shooting in the fourth quarter and all three overtimes. The most nagging Grizzlies player that night had been neutralized, largely because of Collison’s suffocating defense.
The Thunder went on to win the series in seven games.
Collison has since gone on to supply much of the same critical stuff.