Winners Of The 2017 NBA Draft

It’s simple to neglect that the Seattle TremendousSonics have been an actual NBA workforce. This season is the 10th that the Sonics have ceased to exist, and in reality, there solely are 4 gamers nonetheless within the league with “Seattle” on their skilled resume: Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Damien Wilkins and Nick Collison.

The just one nonetheless with the franchise is Collison, who remembers his time with the Sonics prefer it was a lifetime in the past.

“I had never been to Seattle. I didn’t know much about it at all, but I was excited about it. It was the first place I lived after college,” Collison informed Basketball Insiders. Drafted 12th general by Seattle within the 2003 NBA Draft, he by no means had lived exterior of the Midwest and was desirous to unfold his wings slightly bit after having spent a lot of his life in only one a part of the nation. The Pacific Northwest was a revelation for him nearly instantly.

“The first metropolis I lived in was Iowa Falls, IA, which I like, after which Lawrence, KS, however Seattle supplied me issues I hadn’t skilled earlier than. It was an even bigger metropolis, however I actually simply kinda got here house. I lived there all yr spherical, purchased a home on the lake that I nonetheless personal.

“It’s a cool city, and I made a lot of friends there.”

Some of these associates have been his Seattle teammates. Collison got here in only a season after Gary Payton, the franchise’s most iconic participant, had left, so the revamped workforce was a rebuilding proposition, of which Collison knew he’d be an element.

Collison missed his complete first season within the league because of accidents to each of his shoulders, however he made his impression on the league from the minute he was given a task. His workforce even gained a playoff sequence in 2005 earlier than bottoming out simply in time to draft Kevin Durant in 2007. Things have been wanting up for the group with a model new famous person on the roster, however Seattle basketball followers’ hope and basic optimism can be, sadly, short-lived.

Trouble Brewing in Seattle

Most of the 2007-2008 season was spent lamenting the lack to get a brand new area constructed, however that didn’t make it any much less shocking when phrase began to leak that Clay Bennett, an Oklahoma City businessman that led the funding group that bought the Sonics in 2006, was contemplating shifting the franchise to his house state. In July 2008, Bennett and the workforce have been granted approval to relocate.

According to Collison, the gamers actually didn’t see it coming.

“No one really even knew that [the former ownership group led by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz] were looking to sell the team until they announced it was sold, and I remember that I was shocked,” Collison mentioned. “The workforce was bought to those guys from Oklahoma, and other people didn’t know what it meant. They didn’t know if we’d be leaving immediately or what. And then we have been there two extra years.

“So for two years, we’d get asked about it,” he added. “We didn’t actually know something, and so they claimed to be making an attempt to get an area inbuilt Seattle. It actually wasn’t the very best scenario to play in as a result of a lot about our futures was unknown. The metropolis, the followers felt like we have been leaving, in order that they didn’t come out. We weren’t an ideal workforce both, which didn’t assist.

“I still felt fortunate to be in the NBA, but it was a tough situation to play in those last couple years.”

The Move to OKC

Over the summer season of 2008, the Seattle TremendousSonics ceased to exist, with the group then establishing store in Oklahoma City because the newly-christened Thunder. Following a 20-win season, the workforce used its draft choose to pick Russell Westbrook (who wore a Sonics hat on draft night time), and Collison, nonetheless hanging round, discovered in a short time that the brand new metropolis was fairly nice, too.

“When they announced the move in July, I didn’t want to leave,” Collison mentioned. “I appreciated it proper the place I used to be, so I had a troublesome time recover from that. But Oklahoma City felt acquainted to me immediately. I performed school in Kansas. I’m from Iowa. I’m from the Midwest. We had performed in Oklahoma City twice again in school and possibly 4 instances when the Hornets have been there, and I knew they’d an ideal crowd.

“You know, I used to be wanting ahead to taking part in in entrance of that crowd, and I appreciated being within the Midwest. I felt snug. I knew what to anticipate. And then after we received there, the followers have been nice. Even although we began that yr Three-29, they nonetheless saved popping out, nonetheless supported us, and by the tip of that yr, we began taking part in higher, began getting extra positivity. It felt like we had one thing good there.

“The next year we made a huge jump, went to the playoffs, and it’s been really just a ton of success ever since. I was able to find a role in a really good team, and those first years in Oklahoma City were great for my career. They weren’t my best years statistically, but they were my best years. The best basketball I played in my career, for sure.”

Split Allegiances

In baseball, when a participant is about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, they must resolve which hat they’re going to put on on their plaque, which is an particularly difficult dialogue for many who could have had large careers for a number of franchises.

Collison, whereas not a Hall-of-Famer and definitely no baseball participant, has a tough time figuring out himself as a Sonic or a member of the Thunder. This child from the Midwest, who has performed in Oklahoma for a decade, spent his adolescence in a faraway metropolis the place he nonetheless lives within the offseason. He struggles to determine towards which metropolis he feels extra allegiance.

“I have more memories with the Thunder for sure, but I don’t forget about that time in Seattle,” Collison mentioned. “That’s the place I began my profession and established myself as a participant. My rookie yr, I performed a variety of minutes in a playoff sequence. That was an enormous expertise for me to let me know that I might be assured and I might play.

“I’ve been with one organization this whole time, but for most guys, it’s two or three cities. Most guys bounce around and play three or four different places. Drew Gooden, a guy I played with in college, played like nine different places in eight years. That’s just the way it goes for different guys.”

Collison really is only one of a handful of veteran gamers nonetheless taking part in for his unique workforce. Dirk Nowitzki, Udonis Haslem, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are the one gamers nonetheless within the league with comparable years of expertise and simply the lone group on the resume.

“You know, it’s rare, franchise moves, but I’ve still had a lot of stability in my career. I’ve been very fortunate.”

Back to Seattle?

As Collison heads towards the tip of his profession, he quickly will discover himself a fan of basketball quite than an worker of the NBA. As a fan and as somebody owns a house in Seattle, he hopes to see the NBA return to a metropolis that deserves a franchise as a lot as any metropolis in North America.

“I’d love to see a team back there,” he admitted. “I comply with all of the stuff, the world proposals and all the things. I’d like to see it occur. The onerous half is another person most likely must transfer for that to occur, and I understand how onerous that’s for a house base.

“But I’d wish to see it occur. I do know that it’s a superb fan base, and it’s received a variety of historical past. It’s an ideal metropolis, ? It’s sort of onerous to imagine there’s not a workforce there already. Just with all the businesses which might be there, how good the financial system is there. Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Costco—there’s a variety of good things occurring on the market.

“So I’d like to see it happen. Maybe expansion then no one’s got to lose their team.”

Expansion by no means is totally out of the query, and if it ever does occur, it’s simple to think about Seattle being on the prime of the record of potential cities.

When Oklahoma City began the Thunder, the workforce historical past—the data, the retired numbers—stayed in Seattle. Someone actually might simply begin the franchise proper again up like nothing occurred.

In retirement, it’s simple to think about Collison courtside, rooting them on, proper again the place he began.

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