There are certain things no player ever wants to hear.
“We’ve decided to cut you.”
“You’ve been traded.”
“You’ll be coming off the bench from now on.”
“It’ll require surgery.”
Some news, however, can make such matters seem trivial. The players of the Atlanta Hawks discovered this the hard way.
On the morning of Saturday the sixteenth of October 2005, Jason Collier suffered breathing difficulties, collapsed, and died shortly thereafter on the way to the hospital. He was a month removed from his twenty-eighth birthday.
Although his role on the court was relatively minor, he was an All-Star to those in his inner circle. Variously described as “happy-go-lucky”, “a beautiful kid” and a “great team-mate”, Collier handed out the majority of his assists in real life, helping the people around him whenever and however he could. With a reputation as a hard-worker whose effort was matched only by his personality, Collier was liked by all who met him and loved by all who knew him.
In his last night, he ate dinner with his wife, Katie, before returning home to play with his one-year-old daughter, Elezan. What does that tell you? When it comes to Jason, everything.
Here was a basketball player who knew that ten minutes with his family was worth more than an hour of court time. Here was an elite athlete who recognised that he could do as much with a smile and a kind word as he could with points and boards. Here was an individual who strived to do the best he could for those around him both on and off the court.