Collins And Nets Breaking Barriers

VIDEO: Jason Collins signs with the Nets

Less than two months ago when they were 10-21 following a New Year’s Eve thumping, one might have believed there was a better chance of seeing an openly gay athlete in a NBA game than seeing Brooklyn in the playoffs.

Now Jason Collins and the Nets will try to break down barriers together.

By signing the 35-year-old 7-footer to a 10-day contract, it could be said the No. 8 seeded team is clawing desperately to hold onto the last playoff spot in the moribund Eastern Conference.

“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.”

And maybe if this were 10 or 20 years from now, that’s all it would be, a line of agate type in the transactions column.

For now though, it is one giant leap for sportskind, if only because it is the official opening of the societal and cultural closet door.

“Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team,” said commissioner Adam Silver. “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.”

Athlete Ally ambassador and Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried said: “With Jason Collins signing with the Nets today, I believe our world as professional athletes will open up and become less ignorant of gay male athletes playing and more accepting and embracing of the whole situation.”

It was back in April of last year when Collins revealed himself in Sports Illustrated to become the first openly gay male athlete in one of the four major American sports.

That announcement brought praise from President Obama, an invitation to the State of the Union address and a much higher profile than Collins had ever achieved with a 12-year NBA career in which he averaged just 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Yet it didn’t bring a training camp invitation from any of the 30 NBA clubs.

In the meantime, University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam jumped into the headlines with his announcement that he is gay. Coming from the SEC co-defensive player of the year ahead of the NFL draft and from a 24-year-old at the start of his pro career, Sam’s revelation was immediately considered much more a test of tolerance in the testosterone filled air of sports, even if it had been met with a collective shrug in his own college locker room last fall.

“We would accept it greatly and it shouldn’t be a problem, man,” Nets guard Joe Johnson told reporters last week. “We’ve got a veteran group and I think everybody is pretty comfortable in their own skin. It’s about what he can do to help us out there on that court. That’s what it’s about.”

Point guard Deron Williams said if Collins’ addition would help the team, he’s in favor.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a media circus just because of the situation,” Williams said. “But I think with the type of team that we have, veterans who have played with him before and know him, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

The Nets, in fact, are probably the most logical and comfortable fit for Collins. For one, team owner Mikhail Prokorov campaigned for gay rights during his presidential bid in Russia. What’s more, veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are former teammates of Collins and Pierce was his most ardent backer when Collins came out last spring. Coach Jason Kidd also played alongside Collins with the Nets and will surely help foster an inclusive attitude.

“To each his own,” Pierce said back in April. “It’s probably going to open the door to many more. There’s so many professional athletes, there’s so many human beings, that are scared … because of the exposure of sports and what people might think about it. But I think what he did was a great thing, just to kind of open the door for other athletes who probably now are going to have the courage to come out.”

There has already, of course, been an outcry from some on social media that it is all a story manufactured and overblown for a player whose career has been marginal at best. No one is interested, they say and post and tweet. Yet the fact they have read and posted and tweeted is the clearest contradiction of themselves.

Collins has put himself in the spotlight. However, the Nets also deserve credit for looking past any potential distractions to help shoulder the burden and make history.

Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade got the news and summed up what matters on the court about Collins: “One thing I know about him is he fouled very hard. …Welcome back.”

For a chance to pull on the jersey, to lace up the sneakers, to try to help get the once forlorn Nets into the playoffs, smashing one previously unthinkable notion at a time.

55 Comments

  1. Dom says:

    Why is the NBA making such a big fuss about this? Who the hell cares? Move along. Hes gay we know thats good for him. Now lets go make a national tragidy about it. No disrespect to Collins but the guy is booty. Hes not that good. Hes “okay” on defense but hes really just another presence for the Nets

  2. AJC says:

    Kudos to Jason and the Nets for being brave enough to step out there. But I think it’s a little overhyped because I doubt if he’s the first gay player in the league. The first openly gay one, yes, but the stats say that of all the players who have ever played the game, he’s unlikely the very first one. He’s the first to take that brave step forward though, which is something to be admired that he has the courage.

    It shouldn’t be an issue in any sport. What should matter is the talent. If an individual has the talent to play and help his team then that should be all that matters.

  3. keek says:

    There`s alot of gay players in the nba. we just dont know about them^^

    but I do expect signing him was to fill some seats.

  4. DRAGONFORMVP says:

    I thought Rudy Gay was the first openly Gay player. jokes aside it’s a nice fit the nets have needed a player to muck the inside for a long time. Collins fills that role perfectly.

  5. Alex says:

    So happy to see Jason playing again..it matters not whether he is gay, str8 or bi, it is all about the game. The narrow minded redneck dills will never get it and journo’s are so stupid to make such a big deal about it. The caller of the Nets/Lakers game went on and on. Get over it. That Chris Broussard went down to zero in my mind after his comments last year. Chris this is 2014, come into the 21st century at some time please!

  6. MG says:

    if you can sit and watch two men having sex for just five minutes and still feel its ok or nothing is wrong with it then you havent been taught the difference between right and wrong.. i dont want to know what these people do behind closed doors so keep it to yourselfs please.. its not apart of the sport and the day they add sexual activity to any playbook I’ll stop watching!

    • Typical says:

      If you can sit and chastise someone for having an attraction that differs from yours that they have no control over and harms absolutely nobody and has absolutely nothing to do with you, then you haven’t been taught the difference between right and wrong.

      And your second statement is just beyond stupid.

      • MG says:

        typical.. your so typical. typical of the society that we have to live in today. i havent chastised anyone, i stated an opinion. an opinion based on a set of standards that has led me to a fullfilling life. i dont have to come out and announce my sexual preference…. why is it that he and michael sams have to? what do they feel ashamed about? why do they feel that they needed to hide there sexual preferance in the begining? it seems to me they felt something wasnt right… i can wait for someone to come out as heteralsexual before they play their sport….lol

        and STILL… a mans sexual identity is not a prerequisit for playing a sport! WHY DO I HAVE TO KNOW WHO HE F#$%ING?
        just sign him and let him play…

  7. Number 13 says:

    This might have been newsworthy 20 years ago.

  8. Tofubeque says:

    Every article on Collins I see more and more comments saying “who cares??? This isn’t news!! Collins isn’t even good!”

    Are you all really that ignorant of the obstacles facing gay people, and the history of homophobia in our culture, and especially our sports culture? This is HUGE news, and good news. But people seem really uncomfortable with a gay man getting attention because he made history. They think we should just stop talking about the progress attained and still needed.

    It’s like people saying “I don’t see race.” I’ve gone from giving them the benefit of the doubt, to thinking there’s something else going on with all this wanted erasure of gay issues. Especially when you start talking about it with words like “agenda” and “politics.”

  9. nik says:

    I cant believe some of the comments here. This is the first openly gay player in US pro sports. He is breaking barriers and it is a big deal, no matter how little he ends up producing. Its obviously going to be a big story line. Kobe knows “His impact [Sunday night] is greater than what people think”. Hes taken a lot of pressure and attention off the next gay athlete to join the league

  10. SPURS BOY says:

    OH AND GO SPURS GO!!!!

  11. SPURS BOY says:

    Jason Collins shouldn’t get no kinda attention. Score at least 5 then maybe

  12. Spurs4life says:

    If there’s anything positive here it seems that nba fans here are ahead of the curve. If the biggest issue for us is that we are bickering and complaining that this should be a non story then kudos to us for not giving a damn about mr. Collins’ preferences and rather noticing that yes… He’s probably not that great of a player. Unfortunately because many people feel differently (and it’s ok to feel different except when that tends to extend to discrimination in one form or another) I understand the nba, as a public organization, putting it out there as a clear message. I’m sure in the future it will be much less of a story. Well done nba fans. Oh and GO SPURS GO!!

  13. abner says:

    The Team has an agenda… Russian owner needs to tell America that he is not Putin. Basketball wise, it does not make sense. There are several big guys that are available right now that can play. Somebody has to depend the heterosexual players out there looking for a job.

  14. Jeremymichel says:

    The more people talk about the less people will like him, we get it. He’s gay and is on an nba team for 10 days. Now talk about what he does on the court.

  15. zg says:

    He will probably be an all star next year right? Bunch of players working hard, actually going HAM this year and this guy gets the news conference and all the spotlight instead. STUPID MEDIA

  16. Boris Wilkes says:

    This media frenzy has made all young athletes see that they don’t have to work hard to get a pro contract. Just admit you’re gay and you’ll become an NBA hero. What a shame. If a good athlete like Blake Griffin or Kevin Durant had admitted it it would be one thing, but for a player who has not contributed one thing in 10 years to any sport to be treated like a king makes this whole thing ridiculous.

  17. Roy says:

    The fact that this is newsworthy in 2014 just shows how far behind the modern world is on moral and ethical topics.

  18. kevin says:

    i can’t help to think that jason collins coming out as a gay player was a move for him to get a contract cuz obviously not many teams are looking for a 35 or whatever center averaging under 4 points a game..just my .02

  19. Ballersdoweed says:

    “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”

    Marcus Camby, Drew Gooden, Joel Pryzbila(he fouls even harder), Darko Milicic, Troy Murphy, Kurt Thomas and the list goes on with experienced big players better than him.

    “The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,”

    Are you kidding me then? Great marketing move, now Mr. Silver can breathe because there’s been no discrimination, But basketballwise anyone who has been following this league knows he and his brother have been below expectations, and a 10-day contract is a win-win for nets, as they have broken boundaries, get the hype, and if he doesn’t keep up they cut him and done.

    Regardless of sexual orientation, because I believe that there are many more gay basketball pros that don’t have the guts he had, its a bad move talking about strictly basketball.

  20. Anthony Johnson says:

    Breaking Barriers, No Jackie Robinson broke barriers, This is a lifestyle that he chose to live.

  21. joe says:

    Everybody deserves to be treated equally, he shouldn’t be discriminated for being gay but he doesn’t deserve all that attention. He is not even a decent player. Its great news that we are learning to accept each other no matter the differences but he just said he is gay, he didn’t do anything special or extraordinary, he should be measured by his game and what he can bring to the team not by his sexual orientation.

  22. Ladyshakalaka says:

    Jason is an intelligent guy he knows basketball and I’ve watched both Collins brothers play through the years. Jason has a big body and he is dedicated when given the opportunity he plays hard. Good to see him back playing but who cares what his sexual orientation is- just play ball!!!

  23. Kane says:

    J Collins is a complete scrub. Nice guy and great attitude but seriously he’s a scrub!!

  24. Brandon says:

    Wow. This really is not a big deal at all. Who cares. He’s gay, he plays in the nba, no big deal at all.

  25. Sunshine says:

    Once you get past the part about “breaking barriers,” what is it that Jason will contribute to the team? He’s not much of a scorer or shot blocker or rebounder. But then again, you can’t teach 7 feet. So maybe the Nets just wanted another big body in the lane? I’m just wondering if this already OLD team couldn’t find another, younger guy (maybe in the d-league) who can offer as much if not more than what Jason will bring to the team.

  26. TheDude says:

    His goal was to “sign with an nba team”. Sounds like more of an agenda than basketball to me. More propoganda

  27. okc2014 says:

    What’s up with all these 10 day contracts? I think the Hawks have cornered the market this season on those. I guess the Nets are following suit. It’s kinda like saying, You have 10 days to show me that I want to sign you another 10 days…”. Or go back to the D-League, the Red Claws or Angry Ants. But the Nets will get kudos for signing Collins first. If he plays terrible and they cut him loose, they were still being politically correct. Smart move. LOL.

  28. Emmanuel says:

    WHO CARES?!

  29. KratosRAge26 says:

    Only morons in the world would not understand the situation. Welcome back JASON COLLINS!

  30. Mizzo says:

    Openly gay players shouldn’t get headlines because they are gay… They should get headlines for what they accomplish just like every other player regardless of race/gender etc. the only reason his gay profile is a big deal is because the media and the people are hyping up the gay issue in America. Straight/gay doesn’t matter when his career average is below 4 points he’s still a garbage player and a non factor on the court

    • Anonymous says:

      this is what i have thought the entire time!!! all the media refers to him as “nba star” lol who are they kidding.

    • Typical says:

      I’d say taking on and overcoming an entire country’s blatant homophobia quite an accomplishment.

      • MG says:

        never mind typical.. he’s typical of the worlds influence to make us accept homosexuallity..
        Typical doesnt even watch sports, if he did he would know that sexual identity is not in the playbook!

  31. im proud for the nba for accepting a gay male in the league
    we know that NBA is a sport for male. this said that nba is accepting everyone
    who has the talents and who loves the sport
    and for the nets they gamble because the nets is the first team who sign
    jason after he confess hes a gay player wish nets will be in the playoffs
    GO NETS!

  32. mee(a)t says:

    I’m sorry but how…HOW is this news. How about you talk about what he can do to contribute to the team?

  33. Barry says:

    It’s not a big story anymore. The same things were all discussed last year when he was on the Washington Wizard’s team. Move forward with new headlines!

  34. Michael says:

    “the Nets also deserve credit for looking past any potential distractions to help shoulder the burden and make history.”

    “Distractions” aren’t the problem, angry homophobes are the problem. The Nets deserve credit for not being bigots and focusing on basketball.

    • scott says:

      If the Nets focussed on basketball reasons then they would have signed a guy who could actually play! Jason Collins is rubbish.

      • Najeero says:

        If he was rubbish, then he wouldn’t have been in the league for over 10 yrs. Obviously, he has some skill. He’s a good defensive player and can set hard screens.

    • Nick says:

      This whole thing is a “distraction”. What does it have to do with basketball?

      • MG says:

        Dito Nick… homosexuallity is difined as two members of the same gender engaged in intercouse… How the F*$# does that relate to basketball or any other sport! why are we being forced to accept what these people do outside of the sport?! i mean really, if iked having sex with dogs will that give me special rights.. C’mon now!

      • Typical says:

        You’re absolutely right, MG. What does a basketball team signing a basketball player have to do with basketball?! I mean, it’s not like there has ever been a single news story of a team signing a heterosexual player. Why start now? And, no, enjoying having sex with a dog doesn’t earn you special rights over anyone else. However, still in the majority of most US states, you can still earn more rights over anyone else if you enjoy having sex with the opposite gender.

      • MG says:

        lol.. your reasoning is funnny..
        because no matter how you look at, his sexual orientation still has nothing to do with basketball.

  35. Big Euro says:

    This really shouldn’t be that big a deal. He has been a gay NBA player for over a decade, the only difference now is that people know he is gay. He hasn’t changed as a player or a person, he is who he is. Hopefully guys coming out will become a non-story one day, because the game of basketball is bigger than prejudice.

    • Wacky Orange says:

      +1

      Couldn’t have said it better, Big Euro. I fully support his decision to go public with his sexuality but really – why are we still going on about this? Surprise surprise, the world has gay people and even BIGGER SURPRISE – they’re not living on Gay Island in the middle of the ocean somewhere, thyey’re actually members of society doing exactly the same things as their non-gay counterparts. Let’s move on.

      The bigger question is whether at his age and after a playing hiatus, he’ll even be that productive or worthy of much court time.