Jason Collins is expected to suit up with the Brooklyn Nets tonight to play against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center, reports ESPN. Collins reportedly signed a 10-day contract with the Nets.
Collins came out as openly gay last year. Collins will make history as the first openly gay player in the rarefied "Big Four"—the NFL, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League.
The Nets moved quickly to make the historic signing of the 35-year-old free agent center to have another big body available against the Lakers. Brooklyn had been contemplating signing Collins for the past week and the need for Collins became greater after the Nets dealt rebounding specialist Reggie Evans to theSacramento Kings last week.
ESPN.com reported that the Nets quietly auditioned Collins last week in Los Angeles, paving the way from him to rejoin the franchise he spent his first six-plus seasons in the league. ... The Nets are an organization filled with Collins supporters and experienced players less likely to be fazed by the likely media blitz that the signing will inevitably spark. Over the last couple of days, several Nets players have publicly voiced their support for signing Collins.
The free agent and twelve-year NBA veteran came out in April 2013 in self-written article published in Sports Illustrated. The first sentence was: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”Collins had been playing with the Washington Wizards. Since then, he had not been resigned or invited to training camp by any of the league's 30 teams. Collins averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in a 12-year NBA career.
The 7-foot and 35-year-old Collins was born in Los Angeles and attended Stanford with his twin brother. Collins has been to the playoffs in nine of his 12 seasons with the NBA. He has played for the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and was positioned at center for the Washington Wizards.
John Amaechi, who was the first former NBA player to come out as gay, told me last spring that he was not surprised the first out, active male player would be from the NBA. "I expect that the next three or four" professional sports players to come out could also be Black players, Amaechi told me in "Jason Collins Has “Reframed the Conversation” Around Sports, Blacks and Homophobia" for EBONY.
"The media incorrectly assumed that ‘the first’ player would be White and probably from hockey or baseball," author and activist Darnell L. Moore told EBONY. Moore and former NFL player Wade Davis have co-founded You Belong, a sports leadership initiative for LGBT youth. "The majority of the NBA and the NFL’s players are Black, so, to me it came as no surprise."
This news comes only weeks after University of Missouri's star player and defensive end Michael Sam announced that he is gay. Sam is currently at the NFL Combine and is not expected to make his official NFL debut until the fall. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Mizzou senior is considered a top NFL draft pick. He is the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was named a first-team all-American and was voted Missouri's most valuable player. Missouri finished its season 12-2 and Sam helped lead the team to its Cotton Bowl victory.
Wade Davis, former Division I basketball player Will Sheridan and former American Basketball Association player DeMarco Majors discussed the landscape for professional Black gay athletes with me in the award-winning and critically-acclaimed 2012 anthology For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Not Enough. The book was edited by television commentator Keith Boykin.
Roy Hibbert Fined $75K for Postgame Gay Slur
LISTEN: Voice of Russia on Robbie Rogers, Jason Collins
LeRoy Butler Provides Details on Anti-Gay Pastor
NBA's Jason Collins Comes Out: "I'm Black and I'm Gay"
VIDEO: Charles Barkley, Shaq Interview Jason Collins