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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Nets sign Jason Collins again

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

The Brooklyn Nets made it official Wednesday, signing Jason Collins to a second 10-day contract.

The expectation is that Collins will remain with the team for the rest of the season, barring something unforeseen occurring.

Collins signed his first 10-day contract on Feb. 23 and played that day against the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming the first openly gay athlete in one of North America's four major professional sports leagues.

He has appeared in five games with the Nets, totaling three points and five rebounds in 36 minutes.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver came into the Nets' locker room and shook hands with Collins at his locker before Wednesday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Silver then chatted briefly with Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd.

While much has been made of Collins' sexual orientation, the 35-year-old veteran has maintained that he wants the focus to be on basketball and his contributions toward helping his team win.

Collins' No. 98 jersey has been the top-seller at NBAStore.com, and his story has certainly impacted the nation. The NBA announced that it was donating all of his jersey sales to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Collins wears No. 98 in honor of Shepard, who was killed in an anti-gay hate crime in 1998. Collins met with Shepard's parents and brother in Denver last Thursday and presented them with an autographed jersey.

The 13-year veteran has appeared in 718 games, averaging 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 20.7 minutes. But Collins' contributions have always gone behind the stat sheet, with his true value coming in the form of solid interior defense and veteran leadership.