Jason Collins becomes NBA’s first openly gay player24 February 2014

USbasketballplayerJasonCollinshasbecomethefirstNationalBasketballAssociation(NBA)gayathletetoactivelycompeteinamajorAmericanprofessionalsportsteamandleague.Theplayer’sreturntothebasketballcourtscomes10monthsafterhecameoutasgay.

On the pre-game press conference the veteran basketball player said:

“Right now, I’m focused on trying to learn the plays, trying to learn the coverages, the game plan, assignments,”

“I don’t have time to really think about history right now. I just have to focus on my job tonight.” he added.

Collins signed a 10-day contract on Sunday (23 February) with the Brooklyn Nets and ended up playing 10 minutes in the New York City’s team 108 – 102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

A 10-day contract serves as a risk-free on-the-job try-out for a player attempting to make a team’s roster. At the end of the contract, the team has the option to renew the player for another 10-day contract or let him become a free agent.

The 35-year-old had remained unsigned since he came out in April 2013 during spring’s play-offs with the Washington Wizards.

“The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” the Nets 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.” he explained.

The basketball veteran has played 12 NBA seasons, including his first seven with the Nets, the club he now returns to.

“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,” said the NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Last year, Collins’ announcement was met with widespread applause from all over the NBA community, as well as this year’s signing news.

There have been openly gay active athletes in other US sports leagues, but never in the men’s professional sports history. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has had star players such as Sheryl Swoopes and Brittney Griner come out in the past.

Reactions to the signing