Nets Make History; Collins debuts in LA
By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Nets have signed forward Jason Collins to a 10-day contract, and he was in the lineup for Sunday night's game against the Lakers. Tonight marked the first time an openly gay player takes part in an NBA game.
Collins wore Number 46, and was cheered upon entering the game in the second quarter. He did well, looking at times like he already fit into the Nets' offensive scheme, as he constantly set screens for Deron Williams, and provided good defense. Collins played ten minutes, did not score (0-for-1 FG), and had two rebounds. He looked good for a player who had not seen action in over ten months.
Before the game, he had a press conference in which he addressed many things. On how he found out, Collins said, "I first found out this morning, woke up around 8:15, had a couple missed calls from my agent and a couple text messages from Jason Kidd." On history, he said, "Right now I'm focused on trying to learn the plays, learn the coverages...I don't have time to think about history."
On getting the opportunity from the Nets, Collins said, "I played with J-Kidd, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, my brother played with Andrei Kirilenko and Deron Williams. I'm very familiar with the guys on this team. I thank Kidd and the Nets organization for giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank the fans and my family."
Nets General Manager Billy King said in a statement, "The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision. 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."
Collins is a 12-year NBA veteran who began his career with the New Jersey Nets alongside Jason Kidd, currently the Head Coach of the Nets. He played for the Nets for six and a half seasons from 2001-08, and averaged 4.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game. Collins started 404 of his 510 games with New Jersey. He played in 75 playoff games with the Nets, including their two runs to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. He is tied for third in Nets history in games played with 510, eighth in minutes played (12,493), ninth in offensive rebounds (782), and is tied for tenth in total rebounds (2,304).
He then played for Memphis in 2008, Minnesota (2008-09, the Atlanta Hawks from 2009 through 2012, and split last season with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.
Aside from Kidd, he has played with key members of the Nets. He played with Joe Johnson in Atlanta and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston.
From when this was rumored on Thursday, the message from the players was clear that he would be accepted and welcomed to join the team.
At practice on Friday, Deron Williams said, "If he can help our team, I'm all for it. I think he's a great role player. I played with his brother for five and a half years, and they have similar games, so I've known Jason for years. He could help our team."
Joe Johnson said on Friday, "I don't think there's going to be a problem with it, man. I think it's how the guys on the team will accept him, and I think we should accept it, and it shouldn't be a problem."