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NBA’s first openly gay player: Jason Collins expected to join Brooklyn Nets

NBA Player Jason Collins attends the Universal, NBC, Focus Features, E! sponsored by Chrysler viewing and after party with Gold Meets Golden held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.
(Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for NBCUniversal)

The Brooklyn Nets are about to make NBA history, but not for social reasons. The team is in need of a center and Jason Collins is available. According to SI.com on Feb. 23, the Nets are expected to sign Collins to a 10-day contract, which would make him the first openly gay athlete in NBA history.

The Nets have been working out Collins the last few days, but there was a chance the team would sign Glen “Big Baby” Davis after the Orlando Magic bought out his contract. After Davis gave indication that he would sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, attention turned back to Jason Collins, who would fill a need for the team with the injury to starting center Brook Lopez.

The 35-year-old Collins has played in the NBA for 13 seasons, but remained a free agent throughout the 2103-14 season. Some wondered whether an NBA team would sign him after he came out as gay following the 2012-13 season. Collins signing with the Nets makes sense for other reasons. He is a center who possesses experience, leadership and he has a familiarity with the team and some of its current players. Collins was a teammate of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce during his time with the Boston Celtics.

Jason Collins was also a former teammate of Nets head coach Jason Kidd back when both played with the Nets in the early 2000s. It would be a confortable transition for both Collins and the team, since he has already shared a locker room with some of the players who respect him as a basketball player.

Nets starting point guard Deron Williams was one of a few players lobbying for the Nets to sign Collins.

“If he can help our team, I’m all for it. I think he’s a great player. I played with his brother for five-and-a-half years, and they have similar games, so I’ve known Jason for years ….He could help our team.”

Collins experience with the Brooklyn Nets when he signs could help how NFL prospect Michael Sam makes his transition into an NFL locker room. It may help other professional athletes come out knowing that they would be accepted and respected as athletes and for what they can contribute to the team.

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