Jason Collins has become the first openly gay man to sign a contract with a U.S. professional sports team, agreeing to a 10-day deal with the Nets that will pay him a little more than $50,000 but mark him as a historic figure in American sports.
Billy King, in announcing the news, stated, "The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision," said King. " 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."
The Nets GM confirmed that Collins will be available this evening when the Nets play the Lakers in Collins' hometown of Los Angeles. Collins will continue to wear No. 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in anti-gay hate crime in 1998. Collins began wearing the number before he came out.
Under terms of the agreement, the Nets can extend him for a second 10-day contract, then at the conclusion of that, offer him a deal for the rest of the season for the vets' minimum. Each 10-day will pay him a bit more than $50,000.
With Collins' signing, the Nets have 14 players on their roster. It's entirely possible he will be signed for the remainder of the season. Collins' opponents averaged 0.64 points per play in 2012-13 when he was the primary defender, third-best in the NBA.
A league source called the signing Jason Kidd's idea and that Kidd, Collins' teammate for six and a half years, convinced others in the organization. The source said the Nets are "focusing on basketball and not on sexuality." The move was approved by team ownership, including Mikhail Prokhorov, the league's first international owner who has called anti-homosexuality laws in Russia "a breach of international conventions on human rights and freedoms" and "an infringement on personal freedom."
Collins was a New Jersey Net for six and a half years, during which time the team were in the playoffs six times, winning the Atlantic Division four times and the Eastern Conference championship twice.
He came out in an interview last spring with Sports Illustrated and hoped to get back in the game, but was unable to get even a training camp invitation.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement, congratulating Collins, saying, "Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team. Today, I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment."
- Collins signs 10-day contract with Nets - AP
- Commissioner Silver commends Collins on return to NBA - NBA.com
- Jason Collins to sign with Brooklyn Nets - Ramona Shelburne, Marc Stein & Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN
- Reaction: Nets to sign Jason Collins - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Defense makes Jason Collins a good call - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- W2W4: Nets at Lakers - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Jason Collins is ready to play - Kevin Arnowitz - ESPN
- Nets to sign Jason Collins, NBA’s first openly gay player - Adrian Wojnarowski - Yahoo! Sports
- Jason Collins is about to make history, and his new Brooklyn Nets teammates have his back - Dan Devine - Yahoo! Sports
- Jason Collins is returning to the NBA, and this is news - Kelly Dwyer - Yahoo! Sports
- Openly gay Jason Collins signs deal with Brooklyn Nets - Sam Amick - USA Today
- Collins And Nets Breaking Barriers - Fran Blinebury - NBA.com
- After Signing With Nets, Jason Collins Becomes First Openly Gay N.B.A. Playeer - Andrew Keh - New York Times
- Nets Sign Collins, First Openly Gay Athlete in Major American Pro Sports - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Nets make it official, announce signing of Jason Collins to 10-day contract - Brett Pollakoff - NBC Sports
- Jason Collins signs with Nets, becomes NBA’s first openly gay athlete - Matt Dollinger - Sports Illustrated
- Jason Collins belongs on an NBA team, regardless of how much he plays - Seth Highkin - USA Today
- A reintroduction to Jason Collins, the basketball player - Rob Mahoney - Sports Illustrated
- Nets sign Jason Collins, NBA’s first openly gay player - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Jason Collins signs 10-day contract with Nets - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Jason Collins signs with Nets, will be first openly gay player - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Jason Collins makes history in signing with Nets - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Jason Collins’ Signing Masks Billy King’s Failures As Nets’ GM - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- NBA’s First Openly Gay Player Coming to Brooklyn - Caroline Bankoff - New York Magazine
- Jason Collins becomes the first openly gay NBA player - BBC
- Nets Confirm Deal, Sign Jason Collins - Robert Windrem - NBC News