On Sunday night, Jason Collins checked into the game for the Brooklyn Nets. He played 11 minutes in their frontcourt off of the bench, registering two rebounds, one steal, two turnovers, one missed field goal and five personal fouls. Above all else, though, Collins became the first openly gay NBA player to ever step onto the hardwood. By most accounts, that’s a pretty enormous deal.
Not according to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, though.
According to a report from Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Cuban said he thought that Collins’ achievement under 10-day contract with Brooklyn was “no big deal,” adding “that’s exactly the way it should be.” The charismatic owner of the Mavs also went on to say that “there’s nothing to talk about” and that he “doesn’t give a [expletive] about a guy’s sexuality.”
While Cuban is characteristically brass in his statements regarding Collins, he’s also absolutely correct in his assertions that this shouldn’t be a story any longer other than the fact that the league is progressing in the right direction. Regardless of anyone’s religious beliefs or views on homosexuality, there should be no reason for an athlete to have to hide his own beliefs and personal preferences.
I believe the bigger point of what Cuban is trying to say here is that the reception of Collins as the first openly gay NBA player isn’t a big deal because there haven’t been any enormous adverse reactions. The fans and the league have embraced Collins, he’s playing basketball, and now we can move on without fear that something horrendous or hateful is going to happen.
Don’t get me wrong, Collins deserves recognition for having the courage to take the stand that he did in the preseason and to not fall back into the shadows, something I suspect Cuban feels the same about. However, let it also be said that Cuban is right about this not being a big deal. In the end, it’s just a 35-year-old man playing basketball.