35 is an important number in Oklahoma City. It represents one of the most important players in the Thunder’s organizational history. It stands for an individual who has been as loyal as a player can be to a team, even when dealing with a cross-country transition to a new city. 35 represents “Mr. Thunder,” a name given to this man by a former Thunder player.
For another month and some change, Nick Collison, Mr. Thunder himself, will be 35 years old (his birthday is October 26th). Nick is easily one of the most important individuals in the history of the Thunder organization for everything that he has done on and off the court. Collison was drafted twelfth in the 2003 NBA draft, when the organization was still in Seattle with the Supersonics, and he has been with the team ever since.
Early in his career, Nick was often a starter, but as he has aged–and the Thunder have continued to stay young–Collison has played primarily from the bench. His role as a bench player, however, has not ever been overlooked. He represents everything the Thunder organization is about, and while his numbers have never looked all that impressive on a stat sheet, his impact on the court is well-known across the league.
Despite Nick Collison’s decreasing play time over the years, one factor of his game is guaranteed when he steps on the court: hustle. Nick is a master of making hustle plays, which includes being consistent at drawing a charge while on defense. His uncanny ability to seemingly always be in the right place at the right time has time and time again been a spark for the Thunder. When Nicky-C checks into the game at the ‘Peake, and he draws an offensive foul, the crowd goes absolutely bonkers.
As Nick Collison can likely see the light at the end of the tunnel for his NBA career, let us not forget the vast number of times that he has put his body on the line for the sake of making a big play or helping to turn a game around. “Mr. Thunder” is the perfect nickname for Nick, no matter who gave it to him.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @thethunderguys on Twitter.