Last week I wrote a column about NFL prospect Michael Sam, who recently announced he was gay during an ESPN interview.
Some analysts believe his news could damage his chances of getting picked in the NFL draft, but before that momentous event, NBA center James Collins was the first professional athlete in a major American team sport to come out about his sexual orientation. Collins was a free agent during that time, but on Sunday he made history yet again.
The Brooklyn Nets offered Collins a 10-day contract and tweeted out a picture of him signing on. Not only did he sign that same day, but he also checked in during the second quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
A round of applause was heard as he walked on the court of the Staple Center. Many supported him over Twitter, and Michael Sam directly Tweeted him, “Congratulations to my friend @jasoncollins34 – excited to see you do work out there #courage #groundbreaking”
Collins hasn’t played professionally since April of last year with the Washington Wizards because he didn’t receive an invitation to training camp from any NBA teams. This didn’t discourage him from pursuing his passion. Collin continued to work out and is now is the first gay athlete to play the sport, and the world of sports continued on. He played a total of 11 minutes and had two rebounds. During the time of his contract the Nets will play a total of five games.
The nets have been thinking about signing Collins for about a week since they were in need of a big body against the Lakers.
According to an ESPN article, “The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” said Nets general manager Billing King in a statement. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.”
I commend the Nets for looking beyond Collins’s sexual orientation, even if it’s just a 10-day contract. It’s an initial step for equal opportunity for future gay athletes. This decision brings hope that Michael may be chosen to play for an NFL team.