Nearly a calendar year ago, NBA free agent center Jason Collins revealed he is gay and became the most talked about athlete in the country in the weeks that followed.
Then no team in the league talked to him for a much longer period of time. That is, not until the Brooklyn Nets did this week, as general manager Billy King confirmed that the team worked out Collins on Thursday.
Whether Collins’ phone not being dialed by league executives all this time was a result of him turning 35 in December, his reputation as being a non-factor offensively or his newly open sexuality, the NBA should be very grateful that the Nets saved the league at least a little face at the end of the day.
Because even if the Nets don’t eventually sign Collins to any sort of contract before the end of the regular season, at least giving him an opportunity to make the team finally dismisses the potential notion that an NBA team would not be accepting of a gay player. Many would claim that intolerance regarding sexual orientation in the workplace couldn’t be possible in today’s American society, but the fact that Collins had to wait almost an entire year just to hear some interest certainly raised my eyebrows.
Either way, the timing could not be more perfect for the NBA; after all, former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam recently announced ahead of the NFL Draft that he is also gay, and no one is concerned with whether or not a team will scoop him up before the start of next season. With the NFL being as profoundly successful as it is, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver definitely doesn’t want his league to seem far less progressive when it comes to this subject.
At the same time, however, no one wants to see the Nets sign Collins simply as a publicity stunt, which King made extremely clear.
“We’re going to bring in a basketball player,” King said. “It’s not about marketing or anything like that. If we’re bringing somebody in, we’re bringing them in because we feel they can help our basketball team.
“We’re beyond doing something for gimmicks. We’re trying to get a guy to play basketball and help us win. That’s not my focus on any of that.”
Collins, as well as most other people, would’ve liked to see him get his shot a long time ago. Better late than never, I guess.