NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Jason Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday and will become the first openly gay athlete to play in any of North America’s four major team sports.
The Nets confirmed the singing Sunday afternoon by tweeting out a photo of the 7-foot center signing his contract, with his coach and former teammates Jason Kidd seated beside him.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 23, 2014
Collins will be in uniform when the Nets play the Lakers in Los Angeles at 9 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.
Collins announced he was gay in a Sports Illustrated article in April. Collins was a free agent when he announced he is gay, and the 35-year-old had not been signed by any team since.
The Nets worked out Collins last week. The team has been in need of height since losing starting center Brook Lopez to a broken foot in December.
Brooklyn also expressed interest in signing former Celtics and Magic big man Glen Davis, but Davis will sign with the Los Angeles Clippers instead, ESPN reported.
Collins is returning to the team that gave him his start in the NBA. Collins spent his first 6 1/2 years in the league with the New Jersey Nets, reaching the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. He has also played for Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston and Washington.
During his 12-year career, Collins has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
In a statement to the press, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called the Collins signing “a milestone for all Brooklynites to celebrate.”
“The return of Jason Collins to the Nets franchise is a milestone for all Brooklynites to celebrate. He began his career with this team, helping it win its first Eastern Conference titles in back-to-back seasons, and was beloved by teammates and fans for his professionalism and leadership. Last year, he became the first active male athlete in one of America’s four major professional sports to publicly identify as gay. In doing so, he became a trailblazer for the LGBT community and a role model for every community, especially our young people. Today, Brooklyn is truly proud to be Jason’s hometown team, as he has brought us pride both on and off the court. I wish him the best of success in helping to bring our borough its first sports championship in 59 years. Let’s go Nets!” Adams said.
Michael Sam, the University of Missouri pass rusher who is trying to become the first openly gay NFL player, was one of the first notable athletes to tweet their support for Collins.
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) February 23, 2014
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