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Thursday, February 20, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Nets work out Collins

By Mike Mazzeo



Some quick thoughts on the Nets' strong interest in Jason Collins.

What it means: Collins, 35, who came out on April 29, 2013, would become the first active, openly gay player in NBA history if he signs with the Nets. He also could become the first openly gay player in the four major North American professional sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) to ever play in a game. Collins has not played in a game since April 17, 2013, before he made his courageous announcement to come out.

If you recall: The Nets considered signing Collins during the summer but didn’t have a roster spot for him.

“I think he can still play,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said at the time. “His knowledge as a veteran. There’s always a veteran that can help a young team. I think he’ll find a job at some point here.”

Coming full circle?: Collins was selected 18th overall by the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 2001 draft. He played the first 6½ seasons of his career there, averaging 4.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. During his time in New Jersey, Collins started alongside Kidd, who helped turn around the franchise. With Kidd captaining the team at point guard and Collins thriving in a supporting role, the Nets advanced to the NBA Finals in both 2002 and 2003.

What he brings: The 7-footer has a limited offensive skill set and is known more for his work as a post defender. He’s also another strong mentor for Brooklyn’s younger players -- especially rookie big man Mason Plumlee.

Other Collins facts: Collins has a twin brother, Jarron. Both played their college basketball at Stanford. Collins wore jersey No. 98 to honor the 1998 hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, who was gay.