Since the NBA announced the sale of the jersey for Brooklyn Nets center and first openly gay athlete in the four major sports, Jason Collins, the number-98 jerseys have been the top-seller for the league, obviously bringing in big profits for the league and the Nets.
However, the league’s progressive stance and embrace of Collins and the LGBT community through all of this only continues to get more admirable. According to the NY Daily News, the NBA has agreed to donate the proceeds of the sales of Collins’ jersey to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). In addition, the NBA will auction off memorabilia autographed and/or worn by Collins to help raise money for the two initiatives.
In case you were unaware at this point, Collins began wearing no. 98 on his jersey in honor of Shepard. Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered as a victim of hate crimes. The motives for the murder were suggested to be Shepard’s sexual preference, which has resulted in his mother and countless people throughout the country using the tragedy to help raise and fund awareness for tolerance and diversity.
This is honestly one of the boldest and most tasteful that the league could make in this situation. They have vocally been behind Collins since he opened up about his sexuality this summer, but now they are backing up their words and statements with clear and decisive actions in support of Collins and his plight for equality. Adam Silver may only be a month into the job, but hats off to the job that he’s doing.