Jul/16/13 08:37 AM
Monday night’s box score line for Dwayne Collins did not look like much, with two minutes and 41 seconds of play and all zeros behind it, but nobody emerged as joyous as he did from the Suns locker room, where Marcus Morris also came out after hitting a game-winning shot.
Collins logged his first NBA-related minutes in Las Vegas, where he was last seen three years ago after the Suns drafted him with the draft’s final pick at No. 60 and he tattooed “Mr. Irrelevant” on his hand.
Collins did not play in that summer league, having just undergone “minor” knee surgery. He never even made it to Suns training camp and barely even played basketball, only logging two exhibition games with an Italian team before heading home to Miami in 2010 because of the knee issue.
Collins joined Coastal Construction as a laborer, putting paint on walls instead of being a wall in the paint as a sturdy power forward. Collins became a construction manager for Lennar Homes and continued feeling the knee pain until January, when relief from stem-cell and Regenokine procedures made him want to give basketball another try.
Collins bumped into Suns players and staff on an elevator in Miami last year and was never cut by the team, paving the way for him to work out with the team the past three weeks. He took a leave of absence after closing a house in February and got to the point where the Suns made him a late addition to the summer roster.
“Once I started feeling better, I had to give it another try,” Collins said after his first organized game in more than three years. “I couldn’t give it up. I know I was messing up in the game. I’m not doing as well as I should be doing, but it’ll come to me. It felt great to be out there. It felt great to cheer on my team. To have a team felt great. It’s amazing.”