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Jason Collins on coronavirus: ‘It felt like I got punched by Mike Tyson’

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Stefan Bondy spoke recently with former Net Jason Collins about his battle with coronavirus, a battle the fit 7-footer said was harrowing and lasted two-and-a-half harrowing weeks.

Collins, who played with both Jason Kidd and Deron Williams in two stints with the Nets, told Bondy he believes he and his long-time boyfriend, Hollywood producer Brunson Green, contracted the virus while visiting New York in early March. Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, served as special guest of Brooklyn’s Pride Night game against the Grizzlies on March 4. When he learned two weeks later that four Nets players tested positive, it confirmed his symptoms were coronavirus.

“That’s when we connected the dots that we have it,” Collins said.

Collins described the progress of the disease to Bondy...

The first symptom was a headache. It occurred the same night, on March 11, the NBA shutdown indefinitely following Rudy Gobert’s diagnosis. Collins’ headache quickly subsided, but was replaced in a few days by body pain.

“It felt like someone was sticking with a needle real quick in my legs,” Collins said. “So it was a real sharp pain.”

Day 7 brought a fever. That transitioned to the scary symptoms, and a positive test via nasal swab at the hospital. Unlike his partner, Collins had no issues breathing.

“It really affected heart more than my lungs,” Collins said. “I could always take a deep breath. The problem with me was the pressure in my chest. And the stuff it was doing to my heart just got really, really uncomfortable.”

Things quickly went from uncomfortable to frightening...

But then Day 9 arrived, and suddenly Collins was floored by the coronavirus.

“It felt like I got punched by Mike Tyson. Like Mike Tyson in his prime, right in the heart,” Collins told the Daily News. “And all the feeling that was associated with that.”

Collins feared a heart attack. The tightness in his chest was overwhelming. He checked into the hospital in Day 10 since the onset of symptoms, driven to the emergency room by this unnerving discomfort. Collins was assured by doctors that his heart wasn’t failing.

“They said when the virus is peaking, this is what happens,” Collins said.

Collins said he was comforted by remarks by Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks wife, who also survived the disease. Collins took a positive turn in Day 14, and a few days later the symptoms were gone. Now he hopes to be able to donate antibody-rich plasma to help others who have the disease.

“Hopefully my story will be a story of hope for somebody else,” he said.