LOS ANGELES: Jason Collins took another trailblazing step as the first openly gay man in a major US pro sports league on Sunday (Monday in Manila) when he took the court for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
Hours after the Nets inked Collins to a 10-day contract, he came in as a substitute in the second quarter of the Nets’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers, receiving the kind of warm welcome from the Staples Center crowd more usually reserved for their own players.
It was the 13-year NBA veteran’s first appearance in the league since he went public in April about his homosexuality, a revelation that came after his contract with the Washington Wizards had expired.
Facing a bevy of media before the game, Collins said his immediate concern was proving he still belonged in the league.
“Right now, I’m focused on trying to learn the plays, trying to learn the coverages, the game plan, my assignment,” he said. “I don’t have time to really think about history right now.”
The Nets ended an 11-game losing streak to the Lakers with a 108-102 wire-to-wire victory.
Collins was scoreless in 10 minutes, 37 seconds on the floor, missing the only shot he attempted.
He had two rebounds and five fouls, and Nets coach Jason Kidd said he was generally satisfied with the performance from a player brought in to bolster the team’s defense.