Former Iowa basketball standout Bobby Hansen made an appearance at the North Central I-Club in Iowa Falls on June 13, and his visit couldn’t have been timed better.
The night before, former Iowa Falls star Nick Collison had played a key role in Oklahoma City’s 105-94 victory over Miami in the first game of the NBA Finals.
“He was terrific in that game, doing the dirty work,” Hansen said of Collison’s eight-point, 10-rebound, one steal effort, not to mention tip-outs on long rebounds and hustling the way his father and coach at Iowa Falls, Dave Collison, taught him.
Hansen, who played at West Des Moines Dowling, and Collison share a rare link, former Iowa high school standouts who made it to the NBA Finals. Hansen played for the Chicago Bulls’ 1992 NBA champs. Matt Bullard, a former West Des Moines Valley product, is another. He played on Houston’s 1994 NBA championship team.
The Thunder face an uphill climb to get Collison a ring, trailing three games to one heading into Thursday’s game at Miami. But there’s no question that he is still No. 1 in Iowa Falls.
“He’s the talk of the town,” said Steve Howard, an Iowa Falls car dealer whose brother, Scott, is director of scouting for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. “He’s the favo
rite son, without a doubt.”
Collison led Iowa Falls High School to back-to-back State Class 2-A titles in 1998 and 1999, before earning all-America honors at Kansas. Seattle took Collison with the 12th pick in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft. The franchise relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Collison is averaging 3.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 16.6 minutes in 19 playoff games with the Thunder this season.
“You can’t help but cheer for any Iowan who’s involved on the national stage,” Hansen said.
Collison’s play rekindles memories of Hansen, who signed with the Bulls as a free agent and ended his nine-year NBA career with a championship ring he still wears proudly.
“I got lucky at the end of my career,” Hansen said. “The Bulls took a chance on an old guy and I was part of something special.”
Hansen averaged just 2.4 points and 7.7 minutes a game in the Bulls’ 1992 championship run, but he had some key moments. None were bigger than the deciding sixth game of the championship series at Portland.
With the Bulls trailing by 15 points after three quarters, coach Phil Jackson benched all his starters but Scottie Pippen. Hansen, who checked in for Michael Jordan, started the comeback with a 3-pointer and steal in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and the Bulls went on to win, 97-93.
“That was the goal, to have a role, not just be on the team,” Hansen said. “I feel, 20 years later, that I at least helped them get something.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball