Jason Collins makes NBA return

"I always stayed positive," Collins said. "That's one of the things I pride myself on is being a professional, and part of being a professional is always being ready, always training. There were times this past winter when I'm running my five-mile trail run and it's just me and the trail, running and working hard, so that if get an opportunity, at least I can say I'm in great condition."

That he was able to debut in his hometown of Los Angeles, in front of family and friends, was even sweeter.

"I'm very happy for him," his twin brother Jarron told ESPN. "I've seen all the hard work that he's put into staying in shape and to his craft and to his sport. It's going to be a challenge with the layoff that he's had, but it's something he's done for the last 12 years."

The Nets are an organization filled with Collins supporters and experienced players less likely to be fazed by the likely media blitz that the signing will inevitably spark. Nets coach Jason Kidd played with Collins in New Jersey from 2001-08, making two trips together to the NBA Finals. Collins also played with Nets guard Joe Johnson for three seasons in Atlanta and spent half of the 2012-13 season in Boston alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett before being traded to the Wizards.

"It's basketball. It doesn't change. His teammates did a great job and so did Jason," Kidd said. "We're a team. It's one the Brooklyn Nets found a way to get a win."

The Nets signed Collins to a 10-day contract Sunday morning after trading Reggie Evans to Sacramento on Wednesday and missing out on forward Glen Davis, who was bought out by Orlando on Friday.

With veteran forward Garnett sitting out the second night of back-to-backs for the foreseeable future, as he did Sunday night, there was a sentiment within the Nets organization to sign Collins regardless of Davis' decision.

Collins wore No. 46 in Sunday's game but will wear No. 98 for the remainder of his time with the Nets. Because of the speed with which he was signed Sunday, there wasn't time to prepare that jersey number in time for tipoff.

Collins' choice of the No. 98 is in honor of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who died in a notorious anti-gay hate crime in 1998. Collins has worn the jersey number with both the Celtics and Wizards.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who had to sign off on the acquisition of Collins, said last year as a candidate for the Russian presidency that he was against his country's anti-gay laws that became such a large focus at the recently-concluded Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"I think we are breaching the international convention of human rights and freedoms we have signed," Prokhorov said last year. "My position is very simple: This is a personal affair. It is a personal affair who has sex with whom."

Collins' opponents Sunday night, the Lakers, knew the significance of Collins' return but focused on business as usual as much as they could.

"Us players, we just focus on playing the game, and it is remarkable and you definitely have to respect and applaud his courage in this situation," Gasol said. "So I was happy to see him out there. Happy that he got an opportunity to play and got this 10-day contract. Hopefully he'll get a next one and hopefully he'll finish the season with their team. I feel like he's in really good shape and is going to be able to help them.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...