It’s rare, in the era of free agency, for an athlete in a major sport to last an entire decade-long career with one team. The few who do so — the Derek Jeters, Tim Duncans, Tom Bradys — tend to be stars so valuable that their teams are loath to trade them of let them walk away.
And that’s what makes longtime Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison such an oddity. Collison, who on Thursday announced his retirement from the NBA in an essay on ESPN.com, played 14 pro seasons, all with one franchise. He was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics No. 12 overall in 2003, then followed the team to Oklahoma City when it became the Thunder.
In a decade and a half in the NBA, he never once scored 10 points per game, never once started more than two-thirds of his team’s contests, never once averaged more than 30 minutes an outing. Even at his absolute best, he was nothing more than a role player. And yet he was never cut or traded, and he never chose to leave for a slightly better offer, as so many other players would have.