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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

Jason Collins signed a 10-day contract Sunday with Nets.

LOS ANGELES - Jason Collins became the first openly gay player to see action in an NBA game.

Collins, signed Sunday to a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, reported into the game against the Los Angeles Lakers with 10:28 left in the second quarter and the Nets leading 35-26 after Nick Young made the first of his two free throws.

The crowd welcomed him with a nice ovation when public address announcer Lawrence Tanter announced his name.

Earlier, Collins said he was too busy trying to learn plays to worry about making history.

"Right now I'm focusing on trying to learn the plays, learning the coverages and the game plan and the assignments. So I didn't have time to really think about history," Collins said at a crowded press conference less than an hour before the game.

The 35-year-old center revealed at the end of last season he is gay, but he was a free agent and had remained unsigned.

Collins said he was aware of the magnitude of his signing, but repeatedly said he was most concerned with learning the Nets' schemes.

"The pressure is playing in an NBA game tonight and last time I played in an NBA game was last April," Collins said. "So I think that's enough pressure right there."

With a need for another big man, the Nets turned to the 7-foot Collins, who helped them reach two NBA Finals in the early 2000s.

"The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision," general manager Billy King said in a statement. "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 has played 12 NBA seasons, including his first seven with the Nets, when they were in New Jersey and Jason Kidd was their point guard. Kidd is now the Nets' coach and Collins has been a teammate of several other current Nets.

Collins played 38 games last season with Boston and Washington. For his career, Collins averages 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds, including 103 games from 2009-2012 with Atlanta.

The Nets worked out Collins during the All-Star break and met with him again Sunday.

Collins grew up in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles and has a house here, so there was some normalcy to his day.

Collins ultimately will wear No. 98 for the Nets, but he couldn't wear it Sunday because it wasn't available for the game against the Lakers, so he wore No. 46 instead.

 

February 24, 2014

 

 
 

 

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