OKLAHOMA CITY — The organization that became the Oklahoma City Thunder has already retired five numbers: No. 1 (Jack Sikma), No. 10 (Nate McMillan), No. 19 (Lenny Wilkens), No. 24 (Spencer Haywood) and No. 32 (Freddy Brown).
All, of course, were Seattle SuperSonics. However, on March 20, the organization will retire another number and it will be the first from the franchise’s Oklahoma City era.
That number is No. 4.
The announcement was made almost two hours before Saturday night’s tip against the San Antonio Spurs.
Collison began his career in Seattle, playing four seasons there following a legendary collegiate career at Kansas. He then played 10 seasons in Oklahoma City
Hardly ever a full-time starter, he was still a regular part of the rotation for all but his last two seasons.
He averaged 6.2 points and 5.9 rebounds over 910 games.
“Nick Collison’s career in Oklahoma City was unique,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said. “Unique in that he helped create the internal standards for work ethic, selflessness, citizenship and professionalism for an organization that was starting from scratch.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan paid tribute prior to Saturday’s game.
“My first year he was playing more of a role and and I think as time went on the last couple of years, he wasn’t playing as much,” he said. “But I think his impact has always been, to me, is he’s been the consummate team player, team guy … I love the guy to death.”
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovic chimed in, too, calling it “a classy move.”
“He was a wonderful team player and a great teammate,” Popovich added, “and he was one of the ultimate role players. No matter what the coaches asked, he did it to the nth degree.”
• Who is this guy: Coming into Thursday night’s double-overtime classic in San Antonio, Spurs reserve forward Davis Bertans, from Latvia, had made 4 of 15 3-pointers in his previous four games. Against OKC on Thursday, he made 4 of 4. In the first quarter Saturday night, he made 3 of 3 before missing two 3-point attempts in the second quarter.
He’s in his third NBA season and is one of only five Latvians ever to play in the NBA. Two others are current: Rodians Kurucs with Brooklyn and Kristaps Porzingis with New York.
Gundars Betra played 13 games for Minnesota in 1992-93 and Andris Biedrins played 516 games with Golden State and Utah from 2004-05 through 2013-14.
• Still out: Steven Adams turned an ankle Thursday night in San Antonio, yet returned to the game and started Saturday’s contest. Three Thunder players, however, remained unavailable.
Nerlens Noel missed his second game due to a concussion, Alex Abrines missed his 10th straight game for personal reasons and Andre Roberson, who has yet to play this season, is recovering from his third procedure following a season-ending knee surgery last season.
Noel and Roberson were in the arena Saturday night. Abrines was not.