'Mr. Thunder' Nick Collison retires from the NBA after 15 seasons

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) reaches for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Thunder big man Nick Collison has announced his retirement from the NBA.

The Thunder have announced that Collison will retire after 15 years in the NBA. Collison has spent his entire career with the organization after being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics as the 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft.

The Kansas graduate played in 910 regular season games and posted career averages of 5.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1 assist in 20.4 minutes a game.

“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. “As my time as a basketball player comes to an end, I’m so grateful for my family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans, my hometown, Kansas University, the Thunder organization and everyone else who has helped me along the way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It has been an incredible journey that I’m proud of, and it would not have been possible to do it on my own.”

Thunder Chairman Clay Bennett said Collison was the first person he saw in the practice gym following the team's purchase.

“Our initial interaction is something I will never forget, and I thank him for being the same great man today, as authentic as a person you will ever meet. The Thunder will forever be a better organization because he was here.”

Collison retires as second on the Thunder's list of all time games played, 602, fourth in assists, 638, fourth in blocks, 258, fifth in rebounds, 2,561, fifth in steals, 296 and sixth in points, 2846. Collison and Westbrook were the only current members of the team to have been with the Thunder during all 10 seasons of their existence.

Thunder General Manager Sam Presti described Collison as the right player to help define the Thunder during the first stages of the organization.

"Nick has helped define the standards we work by on a day-to-day basis, on and off the court and has become synonymous with the Thunder shield. He is a craftsman; tough, selfless and humble." Presti said. "He brought the best of himself his entire career each day he walked through the door. As result of his consistency and longevity, his contributions to our culture and community will have a lasting effect. That is rare in any industry, but especially professional sports."

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