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Q&A With Nick Collison

Q. Getting your jersey raised to the rafters, at what point in your career did you imagine this would take place?

NICK COLLISON: I think the day they told me it was going to happen. I could have never expected something like this.

It's really a special night for me and my family. It's been a long run. To be able to have the career I had here, then have a celebration like that, I feel very fortunate. That kind of goes without saying. But it's amazing for me.

Q. When the franchise made the move here, obviously very tumultuous time, you were one of the few players that had roots in Seattle. I never remember any grousing from you. How did you approach that? How do you look back on those days now?

NICK COLLISON: Yeah, it was difficult because I liked where I was at. When franchises move, it's not easy for anybody. It's a difficult thing. I liked where I was at. The team ended up moving. That's the way the business works. Luckily we came to a great place and it's worked out incredibly for me and the team since then.

I've really learned to love it here. People have been great to me. They were great to us from the very first day. Ended up becoming a special, special thing, coming out of a thing that was difficult at the time. Again, I've been really fortunate with the way things worked out for me.

Q. You've flown into Oklahoma City hundreds of times in your life. What has this one been like the last 24 hours?

NICK COLLISON: Actually drove I-35, been on that road a lot. I drove in today with my daughter today, waited till she was done with school yesterday. She's missing a couple days. A little nostalgic. I've been here a couple times this year. It's a good feeling coming back.

For something like this, I don't know how to feel for something like this. There's nothing that can really prepare you for that. It's really special. Got in last night. Had dinner with Russell and a couple other friends. It was good just to be back. Coming into the arena tonight, it's been a lot of fun. It will be an awesome night. It will be a lot of fun.

Q. You're known as a guy that kind of established the culture here along with Russell and Kevin and others. What would you like people to know what that culture is?

NICK COLLISON: For me, it was just doing my job. Whatever experiences I had before I got here, the way I viewed playing and my job as a basketball player was to do as much as I could, do whatever it took to the best of my ability to help the team win. I think you just do that day after day, and I think that's what the culture is here. Just doing the work day after day. We started from scratch. Everybody knows the story. We weren't very good. We had a lot of things to prove. We just did it by doing the work over and over again. I think that's kind of what it is. There's really no magic to it. You have to be able to accept responsibility and do the work.

Q. Have you talked to Coach Roy Williams lately? What was it like coming to Oklahoma after playing for Kansas?

NICK COLLISON: I love Coach Williams. I talked to him a couple months ago. He just had an incredible impact on my life as a person and as a player. I think the things I was able to do when I got to the NBA, a lot of it is because I had really good habits, I knew how to do a lot of these things. I knew how to push myself, compete, not give in. I learned almost all of that in college playing for him every day. He's had an incredible impact on my life.

Q. You've been around this team and organization more than anybody. Your thoughts on what do you think it is that this team is struggling with when you watch them in terms of when they had their lows this season? What do you think the team is battling right now?

NICK COLLISON: I don't watch it as closely as obviously I did when I was playing. I watch most of the games. I'm very close with the team and what's going on. To not be in that locker room, it's really hard to say. It is a different thing. That's what I've found. There's nothing like being in there, being in there day-to-day, having the pulse on what's going on. I'd say we've had stretches like this in my time here, too. We always had times where we didn't play as well throughout the year.

What I like about this team, it seems like we got our edge back. It reminds me more of Thunder basketball. We didn't have that at the end of last year. I don't think we had it in the same way we always had it before, where the team just comes out and competes and plays. I think it's been a good year. But they're struggling now. That's part of it, though. It's a long haul. This time of year sometimes you can have some down time where you don't play as well. Hopefully they can get it going here towards the end.

Q. A Roy Williams follow-up. You were the last active NBA player while Roy Williams was at Kansas. When you hear that, what does that make you think about?

NICK COLLISON: There's been a lot of guys to go to Kansas and play in the league. Coach has had a lot. He's probably had just as many at North Carolina now. But I think, like I said earlier, playing there, playing in that program, it prepared us for a lot. There's been a lot of guys that have come through there, had a lot of success. I miss being around coach every day. It's really cool to see the success he's still having.

Q. We've been talking this week about our favorite Nick moments on the court, through your career. Now that you've had some time off, have you had a chance to think about any favorite moment? Playing Z'Bo? Anybody particular you loved going against during your career?

NICK COLLISON: Yeah, those playoff games, getting ready for those. I played on teams that didn't make the playoffs for a while. We made the playoffs in college, had success. I always felt like that's how it would be. We went a long stretch without making the playoffs. To get back, to build to the point that first year when we got in, we played the Lakers, was huge. Playing in front of that crowd, playing important basketball like that, having to rise to the occasion and play well.

Like you said, battling Z'Bo, Memphis, all those series. Playing San Antonio, Dallas. We had a lot of those battles. There's a lot of guys that play in this league for a long time and don't play important games like that. To be able to play in so many of those... I don't have specifics, but I think that was the best part of my career, my favorite part.

Q. You spent your high school years in Iowa Falls, very small.

NICK COLLISON: Five stoplights, four or five (laughter). I'll go count because I say that a lot. I could be wrong. Maybe they have seven, I don't know.

Q. You go back there a lot. Where you're from is with you all the time. Do you appreciate in maybe a way you can articulate what it is to be from a small town, to have done what you've done, and now to have your number retired?

NICK COLLISON: It's interesting. The league is full of guys that came from different places. There's guys that come from inner cities, that come from Europe, come from different continents. Some guys come from small towns, too, in the U.S. I've played with guys from all over. For me, it seemed kind of farfetched to be able to play in the NBA. The best player at my school played Division II. Like, I just wanted to play for my high school team.

I don't know, when you get older, you get emotional, man. I got to fight this tonight (smiling). It's cool to be able to have those people back home, knowing that they're watching. It was just always important for me to, like, try to represent them.

Q. It made headlines that Kevin Durant was going to be here. What does it mean to you to have him here with you?

NICK COLLISON: It means a lot. I know it's not easy for him just logistically to get here. Also for him personally with leaving the team, all the things that come around, that media attention. It means a lot. We talk a lot about this story, building this team here. He was here for all of that. He did as much as anybody. He's a guy that I played with, I don't know, eight years, as long as almost anybody. We have a ton of memories together, ton of battles together, shared battles. It means a lot to me. It will be cool to see him tonight.

Q. Now that you're in this new role, you're still trying to iron out exactly what you're doing, but what do you think the biggest impact is that you can make now after your playing career?

NICK COLLISON: Well, I think I just got to figure that out. For me, most importantly, I got a 13-year-old daughter, just be able to give her the time she needs. That's my priority, spending the right amount of time with my family, then trying to find out what works with my life.

Basketball has been something I've always been a part of. I understand it. I think I have a lot to offer. I think that's something that definitely I might be able to find my own niche there. I don't know for sure. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm excited about it.

Q. Has your perspective changed on a potential coaching career in the future? Have you given any thought to that in the last year?

NICK COLLISON: Again, I think it's tied to my answer from her. I don't have enough time right now for that. Coaching is so much. It's the hardest job. All the hours I spent as a player, the coaches are there two or three hours before me, they stay two or three hours after, they're there in the summer. It's just not something I have enough time for now. I think in the future it could be something I'd be interested in. It would come natural to me. As a player, that's more what you're used to, on the court, trying to figure out how to win games.

I don't know. I enjoy being on the court. I've had a chance to kind of work with a few guys just in the summer, random things since I played. I do enjoy it. It does feel like home for me to be on the court. Just doesn't work out for me right now.

Q. You're one of very few people who have three numbers at three different places retired: high school, college, now the NBA. Once you look backon this moment, how are you going to feel? Which one is the biggest deal for you?

NICK COLLISON: I think this one. I think it's just because of the stage in my life where I can really appreciate it. When you're young, you just kind of move on to the next thing. You don't always have time to think about all the stuff you've done before. This is pretty special to me. It's cool for my family. They've been along with me for this whole journey. Just to have this celebration at the end is great. I know most guys don't get this, so I really appreciate it.