The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

February 24, 2014

Nets' Collins becomes NBA's 1st openly gay player

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jason Collins heard his name called by Nets coach Jason Kidd early in the second quarter and headed to the scorer's table to check in.

When he walked onto the court, Collins became the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the United States' four major professional leagues.

He understood the significance attached to his appearance in an NBA game, but he had a job to do.

"It felt like, 'I've done this thousands of times before,'" Collins said after Brooklyn's 108-102 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. "You go to the scorer's table, you hear what the play's going to be for the next offensive play and you go out there. Once you're out on the court, it's about basketball. It's what I've been doing for almost three decades."

Collins entered the game 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 introduced him.

"I thought it was great," he said. "Being an L.A. kid, I can't think of a better situation, playing for the Nets and playing here, and getting the win. I'm just glad Kobe and Shaq weren't out there."

Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Nets earlier Sunday and played 10 scoreless minutes with two rebounds and five fouls.

Nets teammate Paul Pierce said Collins' play was inspiring.

"I had him as a teammate last year and he is much needed around here," Pierce said.

"In the society we live in, this was going to happen eventually," Pierce said. "He is a guy that is going to be able to open up the door for athletes around the world. It doesn't matter your race, gender or sexuality because it's about being part of a team and caring for one another. Every guy in here does their own thing and so be it. In this sport everything is magnified and it's great to have him here to open up the doors for so many athletes."

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