Kevin Durant will visit his old team in March, when the Oklahoma City Thunder retire the jersey of Nick Collison. The Golden State Warriors superstar wanted to be there when his former teammate’s jersey is sent to the rafters, to celebrate a player universally beloved in NBA circles.
The Thunder fan base, of course, still has an icy relationship with Durant. Many have yet to forgive the MVP for exercising his free agency rights and joining the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016. Despite bringing the Thunder to numerous playoff appearances, and even a spot in the 2012 NBA Finals, Durant is still booed when he touches the ball in Chesapeake Energy Arena. Hopefully that will be put on hold during Collison’s jersey retirement, so as not to take away from the moment.
“That group was so special, that whole group from 2010 until I left there, it was special,” Durant told ESPN. “It’s about time for us to let go of all that extra stuff, and just come together -- especially around this time, because it’s Nick.”
Durant spent the first nine seasons of his career playing alongside Collison, who spent his entire 14-year career with the Thunder/Seattle SuperSonics organization before retiring over the summer. The two players developed a strong relationship over that time, which isn’t rare for Collison - he’s having his jersey retired despite never averaging double figures in scoring, or making an All-Star game, which is a testament to the teammate that he was.
The jersey ceremony will take place on March 20, when the Thunder host the Toronto Raptors. The Warriors play the night before on the road, against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and they host the Indiana Pacers the night after the ceremony. So it will be a hectic few days for the two-time Finals MVP.
But it’s always worth it to celebrate a great teammate.