The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

February 24, 2014

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

(Continued)

The Collins signing comes as Michael Sam, the SEC co-defensive player of the year from Missouri who recently revealed he is gay, is taking part in the NFL combine. Sam's on-field workouts in Indianapolis are scheduled for Monday.

Collins was asked if he felt the tide is turning regarding gay players coming out, including Sam.

"I hope so. What Michael said was it was about him being a football player and me being a basketball player, and going out there and trying to help our respective teams win," Collins said.

He played 38 games last season with Boston and Washington and averaged 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds in limited minutes. For his career, the 7-foot Collins averages 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds.

Collins' announcement last spring was followed by numerous NBA players insisting he would be welcomed in the locker room. Collins has played for five other teams and is respected inside and outside the league — he attended the State of the Union as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.

Former Suns player Kevin Johnson, now Sacramento's mayor, said he saw Collins two weeks ago at the White House "and I thanked him for his courage and being strong and wished him well and to keep fighting hard.

"I think it's incredible for him. I think it's incredible for the league. If I'm on the Nets, my commitment is I want to get in the playoffs and I want to go far. All that is fine, but I need him to win games and I think he's up for that challenge."

The Nets had an opening for a big man after trading Reggie Evans along with Jason Terry to Sacramento on Wednesday for guard Marcus Thornton. King said Thursday that Collins would be among the players they would look at, insisting they wouldn't be concerned about any extra attention the signing of Collins would provide.

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