(LOS ANGELES) — NBA center Jason Collins played his first game Sunday night since announcing his free agency last year.
It was also the first time Collins has played professionally since he revealed he was gay in late April 2013.
Collins has sat on the sidelines this season, waiting for a team to pick him up. Finally, the Brooklyn Nets signed him to a 10-day contract, officially making Collins the first openly gay player in any of the four major U.S. professional sports.
Ignoring any possible distraction this signing might provoke, Nets general manager Billy King explained, “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.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also felt compelled to make a statement about the Collins signing, saying, “I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment.”
Collins suited up for the Nets Sunday night against the Lakers in Los Angeles and played 10 minutes. He didn’t score any points but he pulled down two rebounds in Brooklyn’s 108-102 victory.
In a Sports Illustrated cover story last April, Collins, a 12-year professional basketball veteran, said that he “didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American sport team. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”
The 36-year-old finished the 2012-2013 season with the Washington Wizards and previously played with five other teams.
Collins’ twin brother, Jarron Collins, played 10 seasons in the NBA. According to Jason, his twin never suspected his sexual orientation but when he came out to him, “he was full of brotherly love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me.”
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Sam Turner, Deseret News