Thunder Q&A: Nick Collison talks about NBA lockout

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: September 25, 2011
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Are players upset with how much money they make?

"I think the public has a tough time understanding because we do have a good deal. As an NBA player, we're very fortunate. We're never going to deny that. But when you look at the entire business and the dollars being generated, the league has used the players to drive most of that revenue. We just want a fair deal."

For you personally, you're set. You've been in the league since 2003. You got a four-year extension last year and a $6.5 million bonus. Why be so deeply involved in the CBA?

"All of us realize how fortunate we are to play in this league. A lot of players in the past who didn't have it as good as we have it fought really hard to get certain things for players. I think we all feel a responsibility to get a fair deal for the rest of the guys, current guys, younger guys."

What about the minimum age requirement? Players are supporting that kids ought to be able to enter the draft directly out of high school, while commissioner David Stern favors 20 as the minimum age.

"That's an issue for us. That'll be negotiated at some point."

Why favor a kid trying to steal your job straight out of high school?

"That 18-year-old kid is going to be part of our union, too, someday. We feel as a group that if a business wants to employ you, an NBA team wants to employ you, you should have the right to play. Our union is made up of a whole bunch of guys – young guys, old guys, mid-level guys, stars, minimum guys. I think overall it's more about what you think is right. We feel if somebody wants to hire that kid or draft that kid, we feel that's the right thing to do."

You're not allowed to talk with any team officials from the Thunder, including coach Scott Brooks, general manager Sam Presti, trainers, equipment people, PR, film crew, et al. Has that been difficult?

"It would be nice to be able just to chat with Sam and Coach Brooks in the summer in a friendly way. I've got buddies who work for the team. I've been with (director of team operations) Marc St. Yves and (director of athletic performance) Dwight Daub since Day 1."

Why can't you contact medical staff, especially if rehab is involved?

"It's probably just easier to keep a clean separation, but on the medical side, I think that's a real risk for the team. It just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. For me, being a little bit long in the tooth, it's nice to be able to talk to the trainers and the physical therapy side just to try to keep up with everything. I don't understand that part of it (the lockout). At the end of the day, we're going to come back and play, and if a guy were to get injured, wouldn't they want some kind of say in how his rehab is going? Why not be able to stay in touch with medical staff?"

They're protecting some huge investments.

"A guy like Kevin Durant, they owe him $85 million over the next five years. If something, God forbid, was ever to happen to Kevin, wouldn't they want something to say about it? That's one part I don't understand. It doesn't do anybody any good. I don't think that's bringing us to the (bargaining) table. It doesn't create any leverage for them (owners) really. At the end of the day, we're not going to give into less money because we want to see our trainers. It's easier to make a clean break. I'm sure that's why they do it."

Given the current state of the NBA, is this a good time or a bad time for a new CBA to be needed?

"It's so frustrating. The league did so well last year. We were so into it. It's the most popular the league has been in a long, long time. As players, we're ready to go. Hopefully the other side will come around."