The Brooklyn Nets had their hopes set on making a big splash in the Eastern Conference this season and pushing the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for the top spot in the conference. They never anticipated that adding five new players to the rotation and a new coach on the bench would take some time to adjust to, and they also did not anticipate injuries to Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. All of these hurdles equaled to a slow start for the Nets, but now they are bouncing back and plan to spend as much money as they can to improve their playoff push. Target No. 1 is Glen Davis, but if he decides to go elsewhere, the Nets are prepared to make American professional sports history and sign the first openly gay player to a contract in one of the four major sports.
That’s right, if the Nets cannot convince Davis to sign with them, they have intentions on offering a 10-day deal to Jason Collins. Collins openly came out as a gay man on April 29, 2013; he has yet to play since then, but there does not seem to be any ill-will towards him among NBA organizations. Collins is a 35-year-old big man whose best years are behind him, so his minimum guaranteed contract of almost $1.4 million is a little steep for teams that aren’t in dire need of help at the center position.
The Nets are a team that can be considered in dire need at the center position, as well as a team that does not mind spending money. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov is worth more than $13 billion and he couldn’t care less about a piddly $1.4 million, as long as it helps his team win games. Brooklyn would be a great fit for Collins. He is a big body (7-feet, 255 pounds), he is tough, and he is a good defender in the paint. Well, at least he was two years ago when he was 100 percent healthy.
Collins will find out his fate with the Nets sometime Sunday evening, as that is when Davis will clear waivers and decide where he wants to sign. If Davis does not choose the Nets, then Collins will likely sign a 10-day contract. This will give Brooklyn the opportunity to see if Collins can still play, since he only played in six games for the Washington Wizards last season and has not played this year. The Nets did bring him in for a workout earlier this week, and general manager Billy King noted that Collins was “in shape.”
I, for one, am rooting for Davis to sign elsewhere. I think it is time to put to rest the notion that professional athletes are big bullies and meat heads that are incapable of accepting someone into their locker room because of their sexual orientation; I believe that the narrative of locker room acceptance has been overblown by out-of-date media members. Most players fall between the ages of 20-30 and did not grow up in an era where homosexuality was considered taboo, like most sportswriters did. Once one team takes that leap of faith in their players to be just, fair and caring individuals, this whole “acceptance in the locker room” narrative will die forever. That isn’t a good thing for sportswriters, because they will have one less hot topic to write about, but it is a good thing for sports and for this country.