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Saturday, March 1, 2014
Bucks coach praises Jason Collins

By Joe Totoraitis | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

MILWAUKEE -- Jason Collins made a lasting impression on Milwaukee Bucks head coach Larry Drew a couple of seasons back. And, Collins did it again six days ago.

Drew coached Collins for two season, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, when they both were with the Atlanta Hawks.

“He was so important for us,” Drew said before the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Bucks on Saturday night. “The previous year [2009-2010] before I got the head coaching job there, we were swept by Orlando. Orlando was kind of our kind of our measuring stick. They were a team that just had their way with us.”

When he became head coach, Drew knew that Orlando and Dwight Howard remained the Hawks’ nemesis, especially when they got the Magic in the first-round of the playoffs.

“I made a decision to play Dwight straight up with Jason,” Drew said. “He was phenomenal in that series. When you talk about big-man defense, he is textbook. He understands positioning and he understands angles. He’s physical, he’s really physical with big guys. He does all the little things.

“You need a guy like that that’s willing to sacrifice himself. He doesn’t care about scoring. He does the little things defensively. He was very, very instrumental in the success of our first round when we defeated Orlando.”

Collins became the first active openly gay player in NBA history Sunday after signing a 10-day contract with the Nets.

“The day he announced, he actually called me, but we were in a shootaround,” Drew said. “I returned the phone call and left him a message. Certainly that had to be a big relief for him. Just a very courageous thing by him.”