Jason Collins began a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets Sunday and got a nice hand from his hometown crowd when he took the floor at Staples Center. Collins checked in with 10:28 left in the second quarter, becoming the first openly gay player to compete in any of the four major sports. (It's assumed there have been plenty of in-the-closet players, plus the Dodgers' Glenn Burke.) Collins wore uniform number 46 because the number 98 he wears in honor of Matthew Shepard was not yet ready.
Collins played 10:37, the fewest on the team, took one shot and missed. The Nets beat the Lakers 108-102.
"Sometimes in life something happens and there's an opportunity," Collins said before the game. "I'm very thankful for this opportunity. That's why I work so hard, why I train the way I do so that when I do have an opportunity physically I'm not worried about my conditioning or cardio or anything along those lines."
He has not played in the NBA this season and only got a 10-day contract from the Nets. "The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision," Nets general manager Billy King said in a statement. "We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract."
Collins revealed he is gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated last year. He played high school ball here for Harvard-Westlake and has been in the NBA with the Celtics and Wizards. His former Celtics coach, Doc Rivers, gave his best wishes earlier in the day. Rivers now coaches the Clippers.
Meanwhile: The Clippers signed NBA veteran Glen Davis — the player nicknamed Big Baby.