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Nick Collison has been more than just a basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has not only been a great teammate but a friend, a mentor, and a helping hand here in the community. His impact has been felt immensely from the players around him, and a favorite to any Oklahoma City Thunder fan you talk to.

Mr. Thunder has been with the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder franchise his whole career, dating back to when he was drafted in the first round in 2003. He holds a special place in Thunder fan’s hearts, and that showed on Wednesday night versus the Memphis Grizzlies.

Collison’s locker room bravado is hard to understand because it’s not antiquated within a numeral. If you had to, you could put it to wins. The stability for younger players and his ability to connect on a personal level goes beyond the court.

“He is somebody I always look up to, man. It is a real pleasure to have him here. I just wanted to make sure you all showed him some love,” Westbrook said.

Russell had to pause while talking about Collison, as Thunder fans were giving Nick the standing ovation he rightly deserved.

After the game, Westbrook continued to sing praises of being around a guy like Collison for ten seasons. “I’m just thankful to have him by my side each and everyday. I appreciate everything he’s done for me,” Westbrook said.

“It was cool. It meant a lot to me,” Collison said. “We’ve been through a lot together, and it was cool to be able to have a moment like that.”

It was cool to see Nick being shown the love and adoration that this city and this organization has for Collison. It is way more than just what Nick brings to the basketball floor, but also what he brings to this community and his teammates off the floor.

Like Westbrook mentioned in his pregame address, Collison has been not only a teammate but a mentor. That is exactly what he has been for Steven Adams. Ever since Adams was drafted at the age of 18, Collison made an immediate impact, helping develop Steven into the person and player he is today.

Not only has Collison helped Adams on the court, they have developed quite the friendship as well, traveling together during the offseason. Adams even took Collison to his homeland of New Zealand a couple offseasons ago.

Collison has accepted this role and mentored a lot of the young guys that have been up and coming in the Thunder organization. Not only Adams, but guys like Jerami Grant and Enes Kanter when he was here have been taken under Collison’s wing as well.

It is Nick’s leadership and mentoring ability that has been a huge part in this successful Thunder organization. A lot of Adam’s offensive game can be contributed from the help of Collison. Especially that patented ‘flip’ shot that Steven seems to make every time now down the floor.

When you ask other teammates, even guys like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony who have only been his teammate for one season, they have nothing but great things to say about what kind of person and human Collison is.

“Just seeing what he has brought to this team and this organization, being one of the true pioneers of the game when it comes to Oklahoma City,” Anthony said.

“It’s amazing just how great this community is, and just the love that they have for one of the best human beings that I have been around,” George said.

George mentioned how the community loves Nick, and his impact here in Oklahoma City is undeniable. As any NBA team, they love to be involved and make a difference. That is no different for the Thunder, and especially for Nick.

Collison has developed many relationships here in Oklahoma City, and made an everlasting mark. He has made countless donations, with his money and time.

It is easy to see Collison loves to help people here in Oklahoma City, early in 2018 he took a family on a $10,000 grocery shopping spree.

Collison also visited a VA hospital earlier in the season, building some relationships with the people there. It is acts like these that Collison has done countlessly over his ten years here in Oklahoma City that has made him a pillar in the community.

So when you hear the crowd give Nick “MVP” chants, or the “We Want Nick”, it is easy to realize that it is more than just basketball. They absolutely admire Collison for the person he is, and the countless selfless acts he has done for the State.

Nick Collison did more than just play basketball for this organization. He also embodies what the people of Oklahoma are all about: hard work, dedication, and resiliency. That is another huge reason in why this city adores Collison so much.

Nick has always been the ideal NBA veteran any team would want. A calming voice in the locker room, always working hard and improving his game, mentoring to the young guys and always ready to play when his name was called.

Nick’s legacy will be more than just what he did in the stat sheet, or how many games he played in. It is the mark he has made in this community, in this organization, and obviously with his teammates. It is easy to see why Collison will be one of the first in Thunder history to get his jersey retired into the rafters.

We don’t know if Collison is ready to hang it up just yet, but that last regular season game, it couldn’t have went down a better way. Collison got the roars from the crowd, the love from his teammates and even got some minutes where he played just like the player we all know he his.

When you talk about Thunder as an organization, it is impossible to not mention the contributions Collison has made to the franchise, and the fingerprints he has all over on the very foundation that this team was built on.

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Marshall Clayton

Marshall Clayton is a college student by day, NBA fan by night.