The rumors surrounding long-time veteran big man Jason Collins have become reality, as the Brooklyn Nets will soon finalize the addition of the former Stanford star with a 10-day contract, making him the first openly gay player in the history of the NBA.
According to reports, Collins will be prepared to play this evening against the Los Angeles Lakers, and will add some nice depth to a team that’s fighting and clawing to stay in playoff contention in an Eastern Conference race that’s weighed down by average or below average teams in the middle of the pack with the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat already having separated themselves.
The Nets were also evidently in the market for Glen “Big Baby” Davis, but Davis instead made the decision to sign a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in lieu of moving on to Brooklyn. Collins brings a similar skill set to Brooklyn as Davis takes to the Clippers, with a reputation as a solid floor leader with the ability to play some good defense on the interior against big men, pull down rebounds consistently from one game to the next, and perhaps even block a few shots to alter the offense’s game plan when on the floor.
Collins likely won’t be playing major minutes for the Nets, but regardless, their decision to sign him is not only a solid basketball move but a brave public relations move by the team’s front office. Many will say “so what, if he can play, he can play”, and while there’s an element of truth there, it’s difficult to ignore or deny the historical significance of his signing.
With Michael Sam soon to face an interesting situation in the NFL Draft, Collins’ ability to again play in the NBA is sure to open some eyes across the professional sports landscape.
Until the day when a player’s sexual orientation truly doesn’t matter, recognizing ground-breakers like Collins and Sam is but another step towards realizing that none of us are really all that different at the end of the day.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and the Hiring Manager for Rant Sports.