If you don’t have League Pass, chances are you never get to watch an Oklahoma City Thunder game. But let me tell you something: they aren’t that bad. While Kevin Durant gets all the press (as he should), another second-year player who has improved considerably is Jeff Green.
Averaging 17.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists, Green has been a beast at times this season, taking control as Durant has has missed the last six games (five of which were Thunder victories) with an ankle injury. And helping him out in the frontcourt has been a healthy Nick Collison, who already has two double-doubles this month.
I recently got up with both Collison and Green to talk about the move to Oklahoma City, their favorite NBA city to play in, and life on the road…
Dime: What’s it like to pick up and start over in a new city?
Nick Collison: It’s the first time I’ve had to do it. It’s the annoying things of moving that everyone has to go through when you move. Getting unpacked, getting your water and your electricity setup, all that stuff is kind of a pain. Try and find a school and daycare for my daughter. But once you get over that, you settle in pretty quick.
Dime: Are there people that help out and find all those spots for you?
Collison: There are. The team will give you the phone numbers and stuff. I’m sure some agents do all that stuff. I kind of like to be somewhat of an adult and do stuff on my own. (laughs) Me and my wife ended up doing most of it, but I’m sure there are some guys that probably don’t even take care of any of that and have someone do it for them.
Dime: When you’re on the road, what are some things you never want to leave home without?
Collison: I always forget chargers – cell phone charger, computer charger. So I try and keep those in my bag. I take my computer because I watch DVDs on it or go on the internet. I forgot underwear last trip. (laughing) Sometimes you gotta run out and buy stuff. Usually it depends how much of a rush I’m in when I’m packing.
Dime: Having been in the League for a couple of years now, what is your favorite NBA city to play in?
Collison: I like coming here [New York]. It’s a fun place to play and the city’s great. I’ve got a couple friends who live here and know what they’re doing. It’s more fun when you have someone who knows the city that you can go to restaurants with, go out or whatever. Probably here’s my favorite, but I like going to warm weather places in the winter like Phoenix and L.A.
Dime: What are some of your favorite restaurants around the League that you always go to on road trips?
Collison: I went to Spotted Pig last night here which is good. Frank, a buddy of mine loves that place. A lot of times I’ll go to chain spots ’cause I don’t know where to go in other cities. Cheesecake Factory and stuff like that. I eat a lot of room service too.
Dime: Speaking of room service, what’s your favorite hotel to stay at on the road?
Collison: The one in Utah is really nice. I think they built it for the Winter Olympics. I think it’s called Grand America. It’s a really nice hotel with big rooms. We’ve had a lot of different coaches and we’ve been at different places, but that’s one we always go to.
Dime: So it’s the coach that chooses the hotel?
Collison: I think so, yea. I think that’s how it usually goes.
Dime: So I was just talking to Nick about the move to Oklahoma City. How are you liking it so far?
Jeff Green: Oklahoma is wonderful. Great people and the weather is lovely. Different from where I grew up in the Maryland/D.C. area. You know, everything is fast paced, a lot of buildings. Oklahoma is kind of relaxed and always willing to help and lend a hand. It’s a lot of space, ya know. It’s quiet. I think it’s good for us, gives us a lot of down time. Time to relax.
Dime: What are you spots in the city?
JG: There’s a chain restaurant, Mickey Mantle’s, where we go to after games. You know, me, Kevin, Russell. They got a bowling spot there called Red Pin and it’s pretty good. There’s a lot of places, but normally we’re at each other’s houses playing video games.
Dime: This being your second year in the League, what are some of your favorite places to play?
JG: Madison Square Garden is always the best. I’ve been playing here since I was in college. You know, I had at least five games a year here playing against St. John’s and in the Big East Tournament. So this is always like a second home to me. D.C., my hometown. Being able to play in front of my family. And then everybody else’s favorite cities – Miami, L.A. The great places, the great arenas.
Dime: What city has the best looking girls?
JG: (laughing) I dunno… Atlanta, Miami, L.A., New York. Everywhere you go you know there’s always pretty ladies, but I try not to focus on that and focus on the game.