Jason Collins of the Brooklyn Nets becomes the first openly-gay pro basketball player

It was a groundbreaking debut when Jason Collins took the floor for the Brooklyn Nets Sunday night.

It was his first appearance with the team after signing a ten-day contract this weekend.

But more importantly, it was the first time the NBA veteran has entered the game as an openly gay athlete.

Before the game, Collins thanked his supporters. “I also want to take time to thank all the fans… all the friends and family that reached out to me today... cell phone went crazy.”

Collins revealed he was gay in a Sports Illustrated article he wrote toward the end of last season.
Collins wrote he was happy to be the first, but on Sunday said: “That can't be my focus... my focus is executing the game plan, learning the plays.” He added, “I can't really focus on the off the court stuff right now.”

Sentiments echoed this weekend by another big name, now openly-gay athlete. All-American defensive star Michael Sam was at the NFL combine this weekend.

Like Collins, he said he wanted to be known for his work on the field. “I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam, the football player, instead of Michael Sam, the gay football player.”

Some have questioned how accepting the cultures surrounding men's professional sports will be.
But many fans are already on board. And that goes for Collins' fans in Brooklyn, too.

“The place where Jackie Robinson broke the barrier for baseball, now we have the first openly-gay athlete coming to the nets stadium,” said one fan.

Another said, “Everybody now is openly-gay... football players.  You know what I'm saying?  I have no problem with that.” And a third chimed in, “Long as he's got game, bring it on!”

Sam sent a congratulatory tweet to Collins Sunday, saying he was excited to see him on the court for Brooklyn.

 


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