By NICK CARRA
Jason Collins became the first openly gay men’s athlete to compete in a game of one of the four major sports last night. He played 11 minutes with two rebounds and a steal in the game against the Lakers.
Collins was welcomed with a standing applause from the Los Angeles Staples Center when he entered the game.
The news struck yesterday, when Collins signed a 10-day deal with the Brooklyn Nets, who have been making recent moves to improve their roster since the team lost star center Brook Lopez to foot injury. The Nets also traded big man Reggie Evans to the Kings and missed out on signing Glen Davis, who is now with the Clippers.
In the 11 minutes he played, he was able to force a turnover, get two rebounds and force a foul on a defender, but did not score.
Collins stated in a press conference that he was there to play basketball and was more focused on learning plays and defenses than making history.
“Right now, I’m focused on trying to learn the plays, trying to learn the coverage’s, game plan, assignments … I don’t have time to focus on history right now, I just have time to focus on my job tonight.” Collins said.
Last night he wore number 46, but next game he will revert to 98 as he has throughout his career, to represent and honor Matthew Shephard, a gay student from University of Wyoming who was beaten to death in 1998.
The Nets need a lot of help with their interior defense now that they are lacking big men. Signing Collins to a 10-day deal is like a tryout. If he plays well, we may see him in the Nets’ black and white more often.
Collins has great support from his teammates. In the game, multiple teammates can be seen rushing to help him up after he hits the floor after a hard foul on a rebound.
Will Collins pave a path for other homosexual athletes? What effect will this have on openly gay NFL-recruit Michael Sam? Only time can tell.