The NBA and the big four of U.S. major league men’s pro team sports have their first openly gay active player: Jason Collins signed with the Brooklyn Nets, according to several news sources.
Collins, a former center with the Washington Wizards and other NBA teams, came out in a Sports Illustrated story in April, but he had not signed with a team until today. Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Nets, where he played his first six pro seasons, when the team was in New Jersey.
Nets general manager Billy King told NBA columnist Michael Scotta, "The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision."
After center Glen Davis announced he was leaving to join the Los Angeles Clippers, a spot opened up for Collins. And ESPN.com reported that Collins will be in uniform for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Brian Ellner of Athlete Ally, an organization that works for LGBT inclusion in sports, issued the following statement: “Today, Jason Collins tore open the last remaining closet in America, and became the first openly gay player to be signed by a team in one of the big four sports. We are especially excited that Jason will be playing in Brooklyn, just like Jackie Robinson, and in a marriage equality state. This is a piece of history, an important point on the continuum toward justice and a moment to celebrate.”
Collins is now the first active openly gay player in the NBA. The NFL could soon follow suit by adding Michael Sam depending on the outcome of the draft. Major League baseball and the NHL have no out players. Meanwhile, Robbie Rogers last year became the first active out Major League Soccer player.
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) February 23, 2014
Very excited to watch @jasoncollins34 tonight more importantly I am proud to call him my friend.
— Robbie Rogers (@robbierogers) February 23, 2014