The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

March 3, 2014

Jason Collins set for home debut with Brooklyn

NEW YORK (AP) — Jason Collins has been warmly received in his historic return to the NBA.

Now it's time for his own fans to welcome him back.

More than a week after becoming the league's first openly gay player, Collins will finally get to play a home game Monday night when the Brooklyn Nets host the Chicago Bulls.

"It will be a lot of fun," Collins said. "I have some family and friends coming to the game. I'm looking forward to seeing them and obviously the first home game."

He has played hundreds in a Nets uniform, though it was a white, red and blue one, and the home games were in New Jersey. Plenty of fans and employees of the organization remain from when Collins played there from 2001-08, so he will likely be greeted by a loud ovation if he gets into the game.

"I've always said I'm not worried about the reaction," said Nets coach Jason Kidd, who played with Collins when the franchise reached consecutive NBA Finals in 2003-03.

"I think they will always support a Net. He's been a Net before. I think they'll be excited to have him, but the big thing is him being able to help us defensively."

Collins and the Nets have kept the focus as much on basketball as possible. They all view him as a big man who will willingly defend and foul — he has racked up 10 of them already in four games — who can help pass along 12 years of NBA experience to younger teammates such as Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche.

The fact that he's gay makes him much more than that outside the Nets' locker room, but he thinks that story line will die down soon enough.

"There's only so many ways you can write the story, or tell the story, and then it will just be about basketball," he said during the middle of last week.

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