Nation & World News

VIDEO: Warm Reception As NBA’s Jason Collins Makes History

By Mark Memmott on February 24th, 2014

The applause was warm and some fans stood Sunday night in Los Angeles when basketball player Jason Collins made history by walking onto the court during an NBA game.

By checking in during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the newest member of the Brooklyn Nets became the first openly gay man to play for a team in one of the nation’s four major professional sports.

After being greeted with some cheers, how did he do?

According to NPR’s Tom Goldman, the 35-year-old, 7-foot-tall Collins performed about as expected. In 10 minutes, 37 seconds of playing time, Collins took one shot — and missed it. He grabbed two rebounds and stole the ball from the Lakers once. Perhaps most importantly, he played hard defense — accumulating five fouls while filling in for starting center Mason Plumlee.

That’s the kind of play the Nets want from Collins, who was signed over the weekend to a 10-day contract with the team. He’s there to give other big men on the team a chance to rest and to help wear down an opponent’s center.

The Nets, Tom told Morning Edition host Renee Montagne on Monday, “needed another big body” and turned to Collins, who during his long career has played with, among many others, Nets coach Jason Kidd.

Collins hadn’t been in an NBA game since last April, when he was with the Washington Wizards. It was shortly after last season ended that he wrote in an essay for Sports Illustrated that “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport, but since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”

Before Sunday’s game, Collins said that if there is any message he hopes other gay athletes will take away from his milestone, it’s “be yourself. … Never be afraid or ashamed or have any fear to be your true, authentic self.”

After the game, as ESPN writes, he said “it was a lot of fun to get back out on the court and set screens and hard fouls. … The most important thing is, the team got the win.”

ESPN adds that:

“Asked if he was frustrated that it took until this late in the season for him to get an opportunity to play in the NBA again, Collins said simply, ‘I know that I’m capable of playing in the NBA. I think I showed that tonight.’ …

“Collins wore No. 46 in Sunday’s game but will wear No. 98 for the remainder of his time with the Nets. Because of the speed with which he was signed Sunday, there wasn’t time to prepare that jersey number in time for tipoff.

“Collins’ choice of the No. 98 is in honor of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who died in a notorious anti-gay hate crime in 1998. Collins has worn the jersey number with both the Celtics and Wizards.”

Collins’ history-making drew a Twitter shout-out from Michael Sam, the University of Missouri football player who in May is expected to be the first openly gay athlete to be drafted by an NFL team.

“Congratulations to my friend @jasoncollins34 – excited to see you do work out there #courage #groundbreaking,” Sam wrote.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

A Cirrus SR22 similar to this one ran out of fuel and crashed into the Atlantic after its pilot apparently fell unconscious.

Coast Guard Calls Off Search For Small Plane That Crashed In Ocean

The apparently unconscious pilot of the single-engine aircraft drifted into restricted airspace over Washington, prompting F-16s to be scrambled.


A glimpse of what it's like in the sinkhole that opened up Wednesday under a wing of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky.

Corvette-Eating Sinkhole Will Be Filled In, Museum Says

When a gaping hole opened up under a clutch of classic cars at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky, the disaster became a favorite exhibit. But the museum’s board has decided to fix it, anyway.


Rebels Reportedly Seize Part Of U.S. Embassy Compound In Tripoli

A YouTube video shows a large group of men occupying a building that the U.S. ambassador to Libya says appears to be the embassy’s residential annex.


Protesters attend a rally organized by the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement outside the Chief Executive office in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday.

Hong Kong Activists Protest China’s Control Of Leadership Vote

People in the former British colony are angered that a vote for the territory’s next chief executive will be from a list of candidates hand-pickled by Beijing.


Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a terrestrial globe presented him as a gift in Tver region, Russia, on Friday.

Putin Calls For Talks To Consider Statehood For Southeastern Ukraine

The Russian leader said “substantive, meaningful talks” were needed to decide the outcome in the region, while a spokesman clarified that the region should remain part of Ukraine.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments