Jason Collins was the Nets third choice for a back-up big man in 2014. The Nets wanted the Lakers to give them a pick to take Jordan Hill off their hands. Then, they pursued free agent Glen "Big Baby" Davis with Kevin Garnett leading the charge.
Both of those efforts failed and the Nets turned to their once starting center as a back-up. It would have been a minor, if nostalgic, signing but for one thing: when the Nets picked him up, Collins became the first openly gay player to sign a contract in a major US sport.
Collins told reporters last Thursday that he was uncertain if he wanted to return to the court, but noted "My goal right now is to empower others and also support those who like Derrick Gordon, Michael Sam, Robbie Rogers, and over the next months, couple of years, whoever else joins that list of out active players."
Might he play a role with the NBA in another way? AP reports the WNBA is launching a campaign to market specifically to the LGBT community, a move that makes it the first pro league to specifically recruit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered fans to its games. No doubt that's a step toward the NBA doing the same thing.
Could Collins be part of that marketing? He would seem an ideal choice although no one is saying he will.
He played little in regular season and didn't step on the court in the playoffs, depriving him of a Nets team record: most playoff appearances. It would have been his seventh with the New Jersey and Brooklyn Nets. So it's no surprise that he's unlikely to return. Unlike the other off-season signing, Jorge Gutierrez, Collins has no option, guaranteed or non- guaranteed for next season.
When his friend and coach Jason Kidd was asked why he signed Collins, Kidd answered, "because it was the right thing."
- Jason Collins’ season went way beyond basketball - Tim Bontemps - New York Pos