The Brooklyn Nets signed center Jason Collins for the remainder of the season on Saturday, the team announced. Sources previously told ESPN.com that the Nets, who feel they’re getting everything they expected from Collins when they signed him for front court depth on Feb. 23, were already operating under the premise that the 34-year-old would finish the season with them even though his second 10-day deal didn’t expire until after Friday.
“It’s cool. Thank you to the Nets organization, coaches and players, the team is playing really well right now, and I’m glad to continue to be here,” Collins said.
Sources said that the internal expectation all along was that Collins would be a Net for the rest of the season, from the moment he signed his first 10-day deal, as long he proved that he could still be an effective defender, which he did immediately.
“We always focused on basketball,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “We let you guys do all the other stuff. But having him on the team was always about basketball.”
Collins is averaging 9.8 minutes per game off the bench in eight appearances since his historic debut against the Los Angeles Lakers last month, which made him the first openly gay athlete in North America’s four recognized major team sports. He most recently provided the Nets with some meaningful minutes defending against DeMarcus Cousins, logging 20 minutes in a 104-89 win over Sacramento last Sunday.
LOS ANGELES — Jason Collins, a 35-year-old center, signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon and played against the Lakers hours later, appearing in an NBA uniform for the first time since last spring, when he announced that he was gay. The signing represents a significant step toward transforming North American professional sports into a more welcoming environment for gay athletes. Until Sunday night, no NBA game had taken place with an openly gay player on the floor. The NFL, Major League Baseball and the NHL — the continent’s other three traditional major sports leagues — have never had a publicly gay participant.
The very act of Collins’s suiting up and stepping onto the court — he entered the game to warm applause in the second quarter — represented a milestone in the effort to change a sports culture that some feel has lagged far behind society at large in acceptance of gay people. Collins played 11 minutes in the Nets’ 108-102 victory, finishing with no points, two rebounds, a steal and five fouls.
Collins said he had little time to process it all. He awoke Sunday morning to text messages from his agent and Nets Coach Jason Kidd alerting him to the move, and hours later he was signing his contract. A few hours after that, he was taking his physical and preparing to play his first game since April 17. “Right now, I’m focused on trying to learn the plays, the game plan assignment,” Collins, sitting at a lectern, said less than an hour before the game Sunday night. “I don’t have time to really think about history right now.”