Collins keeping cool in 'uncharted waters'
February, 26, 2014
By Andrew Tonry | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
PORTLAND, Ore. -- On one end of the court, a hungry group of reporters engulfed Jason Collins. On the other, Deron Williams snapped a photo, marveling at the spectacle.
"Obviously it didn't have this kind of media attention last year when I got traded from the Celtics to the Wizards," Collins said with a chuckle.
Nor at that time did he have a top-selling jersey.
"It's uncharted waters," Collins said of the sudden demand. "But it's really cool. I really wasn't thinking along those lines. But it's really cool that all the people are interested in going out and getting a Brooklyn 98 jersey."
Also cool was Collins' demeanor. He met the media scrum and answered their questions dutifully but kept some thoughts to himself.
He said the messages of support -- like the one he received from Billie Jean King -- had been pouring in, though he declined to share the particulars.
Asked about a potential meeting Thursday in Denver with the family of Matthew Shepard, to whom Collins' No. 98 pays tribute, the newest Net again sought to maintain some privacy.
"I'll keep that as personal as possible," he said. "Obviously it is extremely special, and I'm very much looking forward to meeting with them."
Right now, it seems, Collins would prefer to do his talking on the court.
"We had a good practice yesterday," he said, "going over a lot of different play calls, play sets."
While the extra days between games have been helpful in joining a team midseason, Collins said he doesn't feel especially rusty or out of sync.
"I've been playing basketball for a long time," he said. "I feel like, as I showed when I was out on the court Sunday, that I was able to go out there and make plays and help the team win."
With time, Collins figures, the focus will shift.
"There's only so many ways you can tell the story, and then it will be about basketball," he said. "And over time there will be other players who step forward. So I'm looking forward to that day as well."
FULL STRENGTH: Nets coach Jason Kidd expects to have Shaun Livingston, who sat out Sunday's game in Los Angeles with a bruised tailbone, back in the starting lineup Wednesday night.
"He went through practice yesterday, and everything was good," Kidd said of Livingston.
Kidd will also have the newly acquired Marcus Thornton at his disposal after a bout with food poisoning.
"[We want] just for him to get comfortable," Kidd said. "Unfortunately he's been sick, but he got practice yesterday, so hopefully we can build on that."
"He has to be himself," Kidd said of his expectations for Thornton. "Being able to put the ball in the basket, we all know he can do that. We're going to ask him to defend a little bit."
Kidd was unsure if LaMarcus Aldridge would suit up for the Blazers. He has been out since last week with a groin injury.
"I'm not with Portland, so unless you guys know something that could help us," Kidd joked. "[Aldridge] is questionable, but I would think that he goes tonight."
Premonitions aside, Kidd said preparing for Portland is about more than just planning for Aldridge and sharpshooting point guard Damian Lillard.
"They're a talented team," Kidd said of the Blazers. "They've got two All-Stars, when you look at Aldridge and Lillard. But you can't just focus on those two. They've got other guys that step up: [Nicolas] Batum, [Wesley] Matthews, and you've got [Mo] Williams coming off the bench playing at a high level. So they have a lot of talent, and that's why they're one of the best teams in the league."