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Why Nick Collison's current and former mates consider him the ‘ultimate teammate'

Nick Collison's standing as an ‘ultimate teammate' alone didn't earn him a contract extension from the Oklahoma City Thunder. But it sure didn't hurt.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: December 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm •  Published: December 4, 2010
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And now, more than ever, this former Big 12 player of the year has become a fully tenured NBA professor. He will be sticking around to help the young Thunder matriculate at the School of Collison while donning a uniform himself.

Collison doesn't speak often, and few words are wasted when he does.

Observe the next time Collison enters a game or emerges from a team huddle. He will make eye contact with at least one teammate and share a few words on what to do and where to go.

The pupil, usually 21-year-old Serge Ibaka or another young frontline player, (hopefully) will nod that he understands.

When Collison is in a game, there's a very good chance he's the smartest guy on the court.

“Oh, he is,” All-Star Kevin Durant said without hesitation.

Professor Collison shakes his head at the thought.

“I don't think of it in those terms,” Collison said. “I think I have a good feel for the game. I make some stupid mistakes sometimes myself, but I feel I've had a good feel for what the team needs to get done – where to be, angles defensively, anticipation, things like that.”

The 6-foot-10, 255-pound Collison is a power forward, right up until the time you tell him to go defend a 7-foot center.

Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports had Thunder starter Nenad Krstic ranked No. 22 among NBA centers going into this season, and had Collison at No. 21.

“He's a big part of the reason why we've had some recent success,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He's top-notch, as competitive as they come.”

Collison's father, Dave, was a longtime high school basketball coach and coached Nick for 11 years at Saint Edmond Catholic in Fort Dodge, Iowa. As a first grader, Nick became a fixture at his father's practices.

Nothing makes Dave Collison glow more than hearing a coach or teammate bragging about his son's intangibles. Then again, that's what Nick Collison is all about. He knows no other way.

“I think teams see value in me as a teammate,” Collison said. “It's allowed me to stick around longer than maybe I would have if I wasn't (the way I am). I think guys respect that.”

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

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