Jason Collins’ NBA Future

Jason Collins became the first openly gay male athlete for a major American team sport on Monday. Where does his NBA career go from here? (USA TODAY Sports)

Jason Collins became the first openly gay male athlete for a major American team sport on Monday. Where does his NBA career go from here? (USA TODAY Sports)

What will Jason Collins’ announcement do for his NBA career, if anything?

He became the first openly gay male athlete for a major American team sport with Monday’s cover story in Sports Illustrated. It was typical Collins: smart, professional, even-keel, deep and showing a subtle touch of humor. Those who’ve known him — and I covered him when he was with the Nets — say only Collins could be so eloquent in such a situation.

NBA commissioner David Stern said: “Jason has been a widely respected teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Collins’ body of work over 14 years is mostly tied to being a big-bodied, dependable, lunch-pail veteran who has never been a star. He and his twin brother, Jarron, are alike in that respect. Jason has had the better career of the two, though, and always served as a defensive pest to a number of the All-Star centers, namely Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. Collins played them smart and sacrificed his body and often frustrated them. Teams signed Collins for that very reason.

But what makes his situation interesting is his current status in the game. After starting for six seasons in New Jersey during the Jason Kidd era, Collins settled in as a backup the last six years. He’s a now free agent who spent this season playing sparsely in only 38 games for the Celtics and Wizards. And he’ll turn 35 next season.

Had he kept his private life to himself, he’d be a last-minute addition to any team, not a free agent in big demand this summer. But now, will his announcement affect his chances, good or bad, of seeing a 15th season?

General managers can’t speak on the record about Collins, but one scout said: “It’ll have no effect whatsoever. If someone needs him, someone will sign him.”

It’s very possible that an organization will need Collins for his ability and also want him because of his announcement. He’s a solid presence in the locker room, a quiet leader with an intelligent voice and can still defend big centers. And he’s not expensive. For those reasons, it would hardly be a surprise to see Collins in the NBA next season.

As for his acceptance in locker rooms, no one can say for sure, but the NBA as a league is more tolerant and progressive than most. Players tend to be themselves. Remember, this is a league that accepted Dennis Rodman for what he was. The media, based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his announcement, will be respectful. The fans? We’ll see.

Collins’ announcement would’ve carried greater significance if he were at the start of his career, instead of the end. Or if he were a megastar. His profile is much lower. There still hasn’t been an All-World male athlete in a popular sport who made this kind of announcement. But Collins just made it easier if that player ever chooses to call a press conference.

Any team looking for a veteran backup center who brings more than just basketball ability could do a lot worse than Jason Collins. Expect to see him this fall.

63 thoughts on “Jason Collins’ NBA Future

  1. Here’s a player in his waning years who might benefit from any sort of publicity. Is he out of the closet, or pulling one out of his hat?

    • Mr. Lody. Your comment is absurd. In matters of sexual preference, one doesn’t out themselves in order to gain publicity or make money. In today’s world, even with growing acceptance of “alternative” lifestyles, the amount of bigotry this guy will likely face far exceeds a one-year league minimum contract or the attention he’ll garner, both positive and negative. It’s because of our society and the impacts to one’s both public and private life that more athletes have NOT come out.

      • The only bigotry is towards heterosexual people. The NFL just declared that heterosexual players can’t talk about their sex lives with women. But gay men can scream about their orientation from the roof tops.

        • Umm, he isn’t talking about his sex life, he’s talking about his sexual orientation. Just because A) you aren’t smart enough to tell the difference, and B) you are a bigot who assumes that all gay men (when referencing their orientation) MUST be talking about sex, doesn’t mean that there is a bias against heterosexuals. In fact, the bias exists from YOU towards HIM, and never the other way around, in any kind of meaningful capacity

        • OK, you’re just too stupid to have a debate with. I’m surprised you can put sentences together.

          Yeah, it’s tough being straight. I know, being married to a woman has been really difficult for me.

          • It’s funny that you talk about sentence structure because you ended your sentence with a preposition. People who live in glass houses…

        • Doug & Sam:
          Wow, such hate coming from you about Frank’s comment. Calling someone stupid is your idea of a smart reply? Such bigotry from D&S.

        • You are absolutely right! I follow sports to get a break from the serious issues of our world today. I don’t want too much “seriousness” in sports. Personal lives of athletes is none of our business, nor am I interested. If Collins is not signed or re-signed, he can file a discrimination lawsuit, and on and on it goes. He should keep his personal life to himself.

      • I’m seeing a variation on this comment all over the web. It’s so moronic it makes my brain hurt.

        If pulling the “gay card” is such a brilliant tactic, perhaps someone would have tried it by now???

        This doesn’t make him more likely to sign a deal. Arn Tellem told him it would be safer to stay closeted.

        Homophobes: never without a stupid argument to rely on.

        • Right on man. I’m straight and married and just hate seeing gays be bullied by bigoted, privileged people who don’t understand why they’re not allowed to treat gay people like their predecessors treated blacks, women, Mexicans, foreigners, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, immigrants and any other group they feel superior to. (using the same illogical arguments their forerunners used too, with no sense of irony either! Just take any argument about gays, replace every word “gay” with black or women, and these same people would sound EXACTLY like people did 50-100 years ago). BIGOTS!!

  2. Could not be proder of Jason Collins… the man shows enormous courage and honesty. In the world of the 21st century this comes as no surprise from anyone, not even an NBA player. Let’s get to the point that sexual preference is never newsworthy. Be who you are and be proud of it. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to Jason… I’m impressed.

    • No one owes him anything. Why should everyone be so happy for this gay for saying he is gay? Never understood the need to “come out” not like a person has to tell everyone or the need to let people know they are straight.

        • You don’t understand because you have never been from a group of people that has been bullied by the majority, and so your comment stinks of privilege and ignorance

      • Because every day is “yay straights” day. You’re like one of those privileged white people who (after centuries of stepping on people of color) wonder why they want to form clubs and societies that promote the very things (being gay, being black etc) they have been spit on for so long for being a part of.

        And no one ever said anyone “owes” him anything, except that he’s brave for stepping out as a pro athlete and admitting he is the one thing that pro athletes still can get away with publicly discriminating against.

        Remember when Torii Hunter said he wouldn’t be comfortable with a gay teammate? I’d love to ask him how ironic he finds that comment after we just celebrated Jackie Robinson Day two weeks ago…

        Remember that it’s only been 50 or so years since people stopped using that exact phrase, just replacing “gay” with “black.”

        • Please don’t bring Jackie Robinson into this conversation, it is downright disrespectful! I’m tired of Gay’s being compared to the race card! I am a straight Caucasian male and find the gay vs black comparison and injustice! Lifestyle is a choice, race is not!!!

          • lol — trying to be indignant on behalf of blacks and accidentally calling black people ‘the race card’! you’re a straight caucasian male? you don’t say!

      • I agree with this one. Leave the scrutiny of personal lives to Hollywood stars and politicians, but give me a break on the personal lives of athletes. Sports is an outlet to temporarily escape the serious side of life, so let’s not get too serious about everything. There is nothing heroic about someone coming out and divulging personal issues to the public. It is none of our business.

  3. I don’t care if he’s straight or gay. Sports Illustrated is a sports magazine and mlb.com is supposed to be about baseball.

    If you don’t want people to see religion, politics or sexual orientation, leave it alone.

  4. Who cares who is Gay or not Gay. Play ball, act, push a broom, do what ever you do and do it well. And no special treatment whether you are straight, gay, or both. SHUT UP AND PLAY!!!!

  5. What a ridiculous world we live in when people think it an act of courage to say that you are gay. It’s an act of courage to rescue a mother and child from a burning house. Being gay and saying so is no more interesting than being straight and saying so. Neither one is an accomplishment, so hold the trumpet fanfare already. Let’s save our praise for people–gay or straight–who achieve great things in life. A gay professional basketball player is as noteworthy as a tall professional basketball player. Can the guy shoot? Now that’s worth talking about.

        • Tell him what? Gay people have always been able do do what they so choose. If you wanted tio be in the Army, you always could (you just couldn’t say you were gay). If you wanted to play football or wrestle or be an electrician, you could. There was a time when being black ment you couldn’t. Congrats, Jason Collins is gay and people know it. Congrats, I’m straight and people know it. Announcing you’re gay doesn’t break barriers. Jason Colins won’t suddenly get to drink from the “Straight” fountain. He’ll be signed and play ball if need be and he’ll be gay and happy if he isn’t. That’s all.

      • Ummm, gay people do not have access to any federal, or certain state (depending on which state) marriage benefits (spousal visitation rights, survivor benefits etc). That’s kinda important, don’t you think?

    • Well, then I guess all the adults in this conversation can agree on one thing anyway, lol.

      That if you have that opinion, no one cares WHAT you think lol

    • He may have saved dozens of kids lives who were on the verge of suicide because of any form of discrimination, for any reason- standing up an being proud of who you are, no matter how much people hate is an inspiration to me and Many others. An NBA player doing it on a national scale will inspire an improve the lives of thousands of people who have been the victims of prejudice and bullying.

    • Jim, straights cannot be fired in 39 states for being straight. Gays can. Jim, Straights whoa r legally marriage have a host os protections under federal law. Gay who are legally married don’t. Jim, gay kids who are kicked out of the families for being gay are 8 times more likely to suicide. Jim, you are ignorant but you can learn.

  6. If every immoral person announced their immorality to the World, we wouldn’t have time for real news. Are their immoral people all around that can otherwise be decent human beings? Sure. Do we celebrate that? No. If this is good news or any news at all, then Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez deserve an apology for being lambasted for their immorality. If A-Rod and Tiger can screw anything that moves and get condemned for it, how is Jason now a hero?

    • “Are their immoral people all around that can otherwise be decent human beings?”

      Surely you meant to write ‘there’ not ‘their’ …. and in the final analysis morality is subjective…especially when you get it from religious beliefs built solely upon faith.

      Why did you assume that Jason is screwing anything that moves, behavior as you ascribed to A-Rod and Tiger?

      • Because bigoted straight males believe that being gay automatically makes your entire life about sex, and only sex. They are so hyper-obsessed with hating gays that they don’t ever actually drop this absurd mindset.

  7. I’m with you Tony Thomas, if you want to keep thoughts of race, religion, political affiliation or sexual preference out of world view. Quit pointing to the line.

  8. Just to be fair the NBA now needs to have one player openly admit his heterosexuality. That would make their basketball court an even playing field.

  9. One correction to the story. There has been one major sports star to come out, just not in the US. It is Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas, also reported in a major story in SI.

    • The article did mention that he’s the first male athlete on a major American sports team to come out. I’m guessing that the author was still thinking about American teams when he made the ‘All-World’ comment (which was, perhaps, a poor choice of phrasing).

      That said, I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Gareth Thomas before reading this comment. Thanks for pointing that out.

  10. Super impressed by Mr. Collins. Given the amount of asinine bigotry that pervades even this sports forum, it takes guts to declare that you’re Gay. Thank you Mr. Jackie Robinson. Thank you Mr. Collins.
    To the homophobes on this board, I say grow up and be better people. You are definitely the ugly racists of days of old who didn’t want “Coloreds” to have the same rights as us Whites. If you’re black and you gotta problem with Gay people, don’t be bitchin’ when the homophobes on this board and other walks of life tell you to get back to the back of the bus. It’s the same thing baby.
    And please please please don’t cry that Gay people keep forcing it in your face that they’re gay. A) Most don’t, B) It only seems that way because you in the majority (try going on a Gay Cruise and keeping your sexual identity a secret), and C) that’s just an asshole comment to try to pretend there is no homophobia or discrimination against Gay People. There is. They can’t marry even though many of them healthier and more loving and committed relationships than you.

  11. if he can play basketball he’ll be back in the NBA next year. sexual orientation should not be a factor at all so why even make this newsworthy?

  12. i wonder if those cowards from westboro baptist church read this comment page. if collins signs with an NBA team next year, that traveling band of bigots and homophobes will have to take out second loans against their trailers to picket all 82 of his games.

    what collins did should be neither celebrated nor vilified. it should be respected but not used as a weapon or a photo op by either side of the argument.

    in a perfect world, a person wouldn’t have to make statements about their orientation, be it straight or otherwise. coming out isn’t a chance for gay people to to enhance their dating pool. men and women come out because in our confused and misdirected society, we think they owe us that consideration, and for a brief seconds, we breathe easier knowing that the nice collins boy from stanford may be gay, but at least he let us know and that means he’s partially ok. we shouldn’t have to read a press release about collins’ sexual preferences just like we shouldn’t have to listen to wilt chamberlain talk about his list of conquests.

    i don’t care if collins is gay. i don’t care if he’s straight. my opinion of him as a ballplayer hasn’t changed one iota after hearing that he’s gay. can he still defend the post and rebound? does he pay his taxes? does he vote? will he help a neighbor in need? THAT’s what important to me.

  13. sheesh why don’t these gays keep this crap to themselves and stay in the closet?nobody wants to hear that they are gay.

    • Wow, I want to cut you some slack because of your user name, but . . .

      If you can express your opinion, why can’t he?

      • Believe it or not I agree with you 100%. I would also point out the most printed and oldest book in the world puts this in the proper perspective. Read Leviticus , it’s explained there more than once. Sincerely Yankee
        11/22

  14. I have been reading a lot on this topic this afternoon, and this is a very thoughtful and insightful piece.

    Thanks.

  15. Why does any care what anyones sexual preference is. I know that I don’t and I am sick and tired about being bombarded with everyone elses……………

  16. Collins is brave. Gays are afraid to come out because of the covert descrimination. I do believe pro sports teams have language in their contracts that prohibit players from making political statements or from supporting specific political candidates. It wouldn’t surprise me if Collins, now not under a contract, has made a disclosure previously prohibited by his NBA contracts.

  17. No winning organization is going to want this type of distraction from a 35 year old back up center. I think his career in American basketball is over.

  18. I commend Collins for coming out of the closet, but I don’t understand how it has any impact on his playing career. Shouldn’t it be based on your playing ability and not your sexual preference.

  19. well guess its ok. however will he have his own locker room? Because as straight dude I would feel uncomfortable. and for those that argue its not all gay men that are about the sex. well would they allow men to use women locker rooms to change, because its not every girl that a man wants to have sex with. just saying what if he is checking out dudes?

  20. Black, white, yellow, brown. We are all human. Shame 99% of the world is too stupid to realize this. Seems everyone is pushing to make it false. Before someone jumps in with the subspecies BS no we are all still human. A german shepard and a great dane are genetically different but still both Canis Lupus Familiaris.

    Anyway back on topic. I don’t need to know this. I am a spectator of the sport. He’s 36 I think I saw? Are his knees good for another season? That matters to me as a basketball fan then this. I don’t care about his orientation it is none of my business. If he wants to tell his team cool tell the team. There is no reason what so ever to turn this into a national, well world-wide, news story. Nor is this a brave act. It is a hot topic in the nation right now and has been turning in favor of the LGBT community for about the past 6 months. This would have been something had he done it 13 years ago but no where near being considered brave. 5 to 1 odds some team picks him up and you start to hear more about this story and that teams ratings and ticket sales will skyrocket next season. I could even see them doing some sort of fund raiser for some “challenged” person(s) of the LGBT community.

    By the way yes I support the LGBT community. I myself am not a part of it but my wife was “lesbian” for 24 years until she divorced her wife and we started dating not long after.

  21. You libtards are so stupid its unbelievable. Michael Savage is right when he says that liberalism is a mental disorder and it shows by how this country is being run. They encourage people to do everything that is morally wrong. Also enough with this comparing being gay to race, that argument holds no water. Nobody is born gay and its not genetic, its chosen. All the people out there who live a gay lifestyle are not robots or machines and they were not forced to go into that lifestyle, they went willingly on their own. So comparing this to race is just asinine because skin color actually is a genetic trait, homosexuality is a behavior and all you liberal morons on here defending it and encouraging it are only sending this country farther down the toilet. None of you legitimately care about gay rights, you’re only jumping on the bandwagon because its popular in the media, television, Hollywood, etc so you kiss the gay community’s ass so you’re not “uncool.” Some of you might think what I’m saying is crazy but its not far from the truth.

    • We libtards are the majority in this country now. We are America now so love it or leave it and take Savage with you.

  22. First- I do not agree with homosexuality in any way shape or form, I do not agree nor will I ever support gay marriage. Secondly- while I do not agree with homosexuality.. I believe everyone has the right to live the way they choose (as long as it does not include amending the constitution) I do not agree with Adoption for homosexuals. First- nobody forces you to do anything in life, I don’t believe we should cater to everyone’s particular lifestyle preference. If you simply say being gay is not a choice, well than do what others do.. live a life of celibacy- I believe that homosexuality is a sin by christian standards- why should Christians be forced to act as though this is a rightful act? we are called bigots and haters because of our beliefs? Let me say this- I do not condone hate, bullying, or silly childish comments- I don’t condone treating people differently per-say, though I do not agree with catering to multiple out of the box lifestyle approaches. While I am sure coming out as a pro athlete takes strength and courage, I also think once again – you’ve made a choice to do this.. whatever repercussions comes your way (good or bad) the decision was on you to do this. The problem that I have is when homosexual males and gay females try to force acceptance down my throat- So to end this post- I admire the athlete’s courage and strength, I think the hate comments above are silly and unbelievably harsh, and I hope this has liberated him to live his life the way he sees fit, just don’t expect everyone to agree with your decision- this is a free country, we have the freedom to be who we want, without ridicule or hate- This same rule applies to people who do not agree with homosexuality.

  23. I thought MLB.com was about baseball. Since when is it about gay basketball players?

  24. Who cares…he’s gay…oh no. You won’t ever meet him and nothing is going to change. Everyone needs to quit acting like some bench player saying he’s gay will change anything in basketball. All of you just want to argue and pretend you’re right to get some self gratification. Shut up and go back to your normal lives.

  25. Many people will have different opinions on this site. Lets see what people will say publicly. How many people will criticized the Basketball player. I am sure there will not be many public figures who will speak out boldly against his decision to announce who he prefers sexually. Those who speak out will be called every name in the book. So if he is called a hero because he announces he is a homosexual that might have been true in the 70′s but not now. Went to the baseball game in San Diego last week and I saw plenty of Padres fans and Giants fans cheering for their teams. There was a group of people who brought their own flag that did not represent any team. Their flag represented their sexual lifestyle. What does that have to do with baseball? The Padres celebrated their diversity. I paid good money for the tickets to watch a baseball game and what I got was a bunch people who wanted me to know that who they have sex with. Nobody on the field was wearing a rainbow on their uniform.

    • One more thing, we all have standards on sexual orientation as far as what is correct. What if Jason Collins said he was in love with his brother? I know how can I say such an offensive thing. You know I am sure he loves his brother especially his twin brother. Maybe you were thinking something immoral about my statement. Just checking to see when you become intolerant. Intolerance is okay in some situations. Your situations are different than mine. I use the bible as my standard. Is their something wrong with that?

  26. Unless he is going to become a baseball player, then I don’t really care. This is MLB.com not NBA.com

  27. I guess there’s a good reason for us making such a big deal out of this, but I can’t see it. I will say this though – if we are going to have a discussion about his sexual orientation (and peoples’ in general), both sides should be free to express their feelings, concerns, and everything else without being called names (bigots, homophopes, etc.)