Collison donates $40,000 to Special Care
Thunder forward Nick Collison has donated $40,000 to Special Care, a local facility that offers education, therapy and other programs for children. Weather permitting, Collison is scheduled to visit Special Care on Thursday afternoon to present his donation.
Collison and teammate Morris Peterson visited Special Care on Oct. 22 as part of the Thunder Cares program and spent time with staff and children. From that visit, Collision said he knew it was a cause he wanted to support.
Due to a combination of heavy snow and rush-hour traffic, the Thunder's first of two team busses arrived 45 minutes behind schedule to Wednesday night's game against Denver inside the Pepsi Center. Guard Thabo Sefolosha was the lone player on the team's second bus and arrived 55 minutes before tipoff.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the delayed arrival was no big deal. “Guys do like having a routine, but you get off the bus, you warm up and you play,” Brooks said. “These guys are all young enough. They're not too far removed from high school, where you come to the gym 45 minutes early and you play.”
The weather definitely affected attendance. An estimated 5,000 fans were on hand for the opening tip. The Nuggets entered the contest averaging 16,649 fans per game.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have spoken fondly of being Team USA teammates with Chauncey Billups since winning a gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey last summer.
The Denver point guard also was impressed with the Thunder tandem.
“He's just a down-to-earth, very humble guy,” Billups said, when asked about Durant. “He's all about the right things. He does it right. He really is that guy. I love both those guys, man. Russ is a super, super talent. (He's) really another great kid, another regular kid. If you didn't know who he was, you wouldn't know who he is. He'd fit in anywhere. I love that kid, man. I love his family. They both have great families. They're good people.”
A ‘WEEK' LINK
Westbrook has now been named Western Conference Player of the Week three times in the first 12 weeks of the season, a feat that has Brooks shaking his head.
“Do you realize how amazing that is?” Brooks asked.
Brooks said what makes it particularly impressive is Westbrook's accomplishments have come with him maintaining a team-first attitude and disregarding personal statistics.
“That's true,” Westbrook said with a nod. “Wins matter most.”
Westbrook took a substantial first step toward potentially his fourth award, beginning this week with 32 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and two assists against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
Wednesday's game against the Thunder marked the halfway point of the season for the Nuggets, who entered with a 23-17 record.
Billups said the first half of the season flew by, but Denver coach George Karl said he didn't feel the same way, particularly given all the rumors and uncertainty surrounding forward Carmelo Anthony being traded.
“It's been fast,” Karl said, “but it's probably been too dramatic for me, too much emotion. I'd rather be more boring and consistent and successful. I think our guys are still hanging in there, doing a good job.”
“That team is going to be intact for a long time. They're not going anywhere, and they're going to be really good for a long time with the young talent they have. There is a lot to like about that team. They have a lot of young talent. They play extremely hard. They have a young coach who's a very likable guy, too.” — Billups on the Thunder's future