Nick Collison wasn’t the best player to wear an NBA jersey, but his devotion and work ethic during his 15-year career made him a fan favorite.

Wednesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder honored the Iowa native before their game against the Toronto Raptors. The organization retired his No. 4 jersey and raised it to the rafters of Chesapeake Energy Arena during a pre-game ceremony (video above).

“I never expected anything like this”, Collison said during a press conference (video below). “It’s a special night for me and my family. It’s been a long run. To be able to have the career I’ve had here and have a celebration like that, I feel very fortunate. It’s amazing for me.”

Collison’s number was the first retired by the Thunder since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. The Seattle SuperSonics took Collison with the 12th overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. He played for the club his entire career.

Called “Mr. Thunder” by the fans, Collison also earned the nickname “dirty” because of all the hustle plays he made during games. Often times, Collison’s play on the court – diving for loose balls or taking charges – left him bloodied and bruised.

Collison retired from the NBA following the 2017-18 season. Despite averaging just 5.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game during his career, he became a legendary player for the Thunder because of his leadership and the respect he had for his teammates. Collison is credited with helping to develop the team’s culture in Oklahoma City.

“I just want to thank the city, the organization, and all of you for tonight,” he said, speaking to the fans during the ceremony (video above). “This is incredible. I’ll never forget it.”

The jersey retirement marked the second time this month that Collison was honored. On March 8, he was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame.

During his prep career, Collison led Iowa Falls to a pair of state championships in 1998 and 1999. The Cadets won 52-straight games and 74 of 75 overall on the way to those titles.

Collison played college basketball at Kansas from 1999 to 2003. The Jayhawks went to back-to-back Final Fours during his time there. As a senior, he was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and was also a consensus All-American.

In recognition of Collison’s achievements at Kansas, the university retired his No. 4 in 2003.

Courtesy: Inside Thunder via YouTube

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