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NBA Finals: Nick Collison has been through a lot with Thunder franchise

The Thunder's Nick Collison has played for the franchise for eight years. He's been through a lot — the move from Seattle, the slow start in Oklahoma City — and now he'll finally get a chance to play for an NBA Championship.
by Jenni Carlson Published: June 11, 2012

Emphasis on we.

Presti wanted Collison on board for the long haul, and there's no doubt that Presti knew that if the team moved to Oklahoma City, no player within the franchise would have it harder than Collison.

Uprooting the family? Moving somewhere new?

Just because these guys are professional basketball players doesn't mean they're immune to every-day difficulties.

And when the Thunder's first year in Oklahoma City got off to a 3-29 start, it only made matters worse.

“There were definitely times where if I would've gotten traded to a playoff team ... ” Collison said, cutting himself short.

“I wasn't going to ask for (a trade), but there were times where you start to look around and think the grass is greener somewhere else. It's just human nature.”

Who doesn't want to be successful at their job?

Collison sure does, and there for awhile, the results were not good.

“The good thing about it was I still understood where we were going,” he said. “Despite the losing, the decisions made sense. The way we approached practice every day was good.”

That approach?

Keep your head down, keep working and things will get better.

That resonated with Collison.

“He could've played out his contract,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, “but he chose not to. He stayed to become part of what we're doing, and we're all thankful for it.”

That's because Collison's approach, the one that Presti recognized in Seattle and knew he wanted on his team in Oklahoma City, hasn't changed. Even though Collison has been in the league nearly a decade, he still wears the blue collar, still carries the lunch pail.

“It rubs off on our guys,” Brooks said.

And more than anything, Collison wants to win. He had that much-talked-about Thunder DNA before the boys in blue, much less the NBA Finals were even a glimmer in Oklahoma City's eye.

It seems only fitting, then, that his first trip to The Finals is in this city with this team.

“To be able to stick through it all and slowly kind of build our team ... has been great,” Collison said. “It's been a lot of fun.”

You can bet if there is celebration for the Thunder at the end of this series, Collison won't make a beeline for the locker room. He'll relish it. He'll enjoy it.

He'll deserve it.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison isn't the focus of these NBA Finals, but talk to those inside this Thunder team, and you'll hear just how important he is:

Scott Brooks, Thunder coach

“It's nice to see him (in The Finals) because a big part of the success that we're having is his lunch-pail mentality. He does his work every day. You can have a team full of veterans that are not good veterans, and your young guys see that and they're not going to be good professionals.”

Kevin Durant, Thunder forward

“Nick has been through it all — his first year not playing, having shoulder surgery, coming back that next year and being on a playoff team, then missing it for the next three or four years. We wanna win it for guys like Nick, Perk, Fish. We wanna do it for them.”


“He's the heart and soul of our team.”


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