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Jason Collins signs with Brookyln Nets, becomes NBA’s first openly gay player
- Updated: February 23, 2014
Collins is expected to be in uniform as the Nets take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. The 35-year-old played last season for the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics as he averaged 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.1 minutes per game in 38 games played.
“The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” Nets general manager Billy King said in the statement. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.”
Brooklyn’s decision to sign Collins, who auditioned for the team last week in Los Angeles, was made after former Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis chose to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Nets released a photo via their Twitter account on Sunday showing Collins signing his contract:
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 23, 2014
Prior to signing, Nets forward Kevin Garnett supported the idea of adding the 13-year veteran to his team.
“I played with JC too, very similar to (Glen Davis). Probably doesn’t have the distance in some of the skill level, but, great competitor, plays team basketball, is for the team, great guy, great character. Those two can definitely help this team.”
Athlete Ally, which is a non-profit organization that deals with the NBA and other professional sports leagues on LGBT inclusion, released a statement on Sunday in support of the decision.
“Today, Jason Collins tore open the last remaining closet in America, and became the first openly gay player to be signed by a team in one of the big four sports. We are especially excited that Jason will be playing in Brooklyn, just like Jackie Robinson, and in a marriage equality state. This is a piece of history, an important point on the continuum toward justice and a moment to celebrate,” Brian Ellner, a member of the Athlete Ally board of directors said in a statement.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also issued a statement about the signing.
“Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team,” Silver said. “Today, I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment
With Collins now a member of an NBA team, it may be the first step in acceptance of other gay athletes in other professional sports on the basis of the player’s ability in that sport rather than their sexual orientation.
Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images