Thunder chairman Clayton I. Bennett said that after purchasing the SuperSonics, the first thing he saw in the gym was Collison practicing his jump shot.
He spent the past couple of seasons not playing much, getting into only 35 total games over that time.
"My goal was always to make a career out of basketball and I was blessed to be in the NBA for 15 seasons", Collison said in a statement.
Longtime NBA big man Nick Collison announced his retirement from the league Thursday. "I'm retiring from competitive basketball".
The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Collison with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2003 draft and he spent 15 seasons with the organization. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. The only players to spend their career with one franchise and play more games than Collison: John Stockton, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant, John Havlicek, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Joe Dumars, Hal Greer, Calvin Murphy, Alvan Adams, David Robinson, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Fred Brown, Bill Russell, Jerry West, James Worthy and Tom Sanders.
Now for Westbrook, he has given a different message about what Collison meant to him.
Over the course of his career, Collison appeared in 910 regular season games (177 starts) and posted career averages of 5.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 20.4 minutes per game.
"I've been in OKC 10 years now, and the fans have been incredible". Additionally, Collison saw action in 91 postseason games where he averaged 4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 16.8 minutes.
Collison quickly became a fan favorite for his gritty style, for the expected-yet-unexpected passes to backdoor cutters flying down the baseline, for the hard screens, clean-up work and defense that helped the Thunder make four Western Conference Finals appearances and one NBA Finals appearance during his tenure.
"I've had a lot of really good people around me", Collison said. Both were members of the Thunder team that went to the 2012 NBA Finals, ultimately losing to the Miami Heat in five games.