Today it has been reported that the Brooklyn Nets have signed Jason Collins to a 10-day contract. The Nets were in need of depth on their front court after trading Reggie Evans to Sacramento in a deal for Marcus Thornton. Collins played for the Nets organization in New Jersey over seven seasons between 2001 and the 2007-08 season. The signing of Jason Collins the basketball player will likely be a very insignificant addition by the Nets. Collins has not averaged more than 2 points or 2 rebounds per game since the 2010-11 season when he was playing for the Atlanta Hawks.
The significance of the signing is that Collins will become the first openly gay active player in the history of the NBA. Collins, 35, announced that he was gay during the off season prior to this year while he was a free agent and was not signed by any team before today.
Having the first openly gay athlete in the history of the major American professional sports on their team is going to be a talking point for every member of the Nets franchise, but the Nets seem to be a natural fit for the big man in that regard. The Nets have many people with direct basketball connections to Collins; head coach Jason Kidd played for many years alongside Collins in the Nets franchise, Joe Johnson played with him in Atlanta and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce played with him for the Boston Celtics.
Ultimately this is a basketball decision made by a team that is in serious playoff contention. They were in need of a big body to give them minutes and they believed Jason Collins was their best option. I am not naive enough to think Collins’ presence on the Nets will be discussed solely for his on the court ability, but it should.