Support filters in for Jason Collins
LOS ANGELES -- Amid the stream of congratulatory calls, emails, texts and tweets Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins has received since becoming the first openly gay athlete to play in one of North America's four major professional leagues Sunday, one stood out.
"I got a text message last night from Billie Jean King," Collins said Tuesday, before the Nets practiced at UCLA. "She just got back from Sochi, and with all that's happening with the loss of her mother, she was great. It was really nice to hear from her."
King, who is openly gay, attended the Winter Olympics closing ceremony Sunday. The tennis Hall of Famer was selected by President Barack Obama in December as a member of the U.S. delegation for the opening ceremony, but she postponed her trip to Russia when her mother's health deteriorated. Betty Moffitt died Feb. 7, the day of the opening ceremony, at age 91.
Collins wouldn't divulge any details from his exchange with the King.
"I'd prefer to keep that personal, but it was very meaningful and I very much appreciate it," he said.
While a majority of the feedback Collins has received in the past 48 hours has been positive, he said his Twitter feed hasn't been as kind.
"Well, of course on Twitter you're going to have the crazies," Collins said. "I've always done a good job of blocking those people and never responding to that. But that's Twitter.
"As far as people who actually have my number, no, the support has been overwhelmingly positive."
The past two days have been a whirlwind for Collins, from playing in his first NBA game in almost a year, to dealing with the media, to returning as many calls and texts as he could, to having to say goodbye to brother Jarron Collins and Jarron's children before getting ready to head to Portland, where the Nets open a seven-game trip Wednesday night against the Trail Blazers.
But through all of the noise, he hasn't lost sight of his No. 1 task at hand.
"I'm trying to prioritize things, and basketball right now is the priority," Collins said. "Again, it's about the plays, it's about our calls and just trying to get comfortable with what it is that the Brooklyn Nets do on both ends of the court."
Despite the uncertainty that comes with playing on a 10-day contract, Collins believes he has nothing left to prove in his NBA career.
"I know most of the guys know what I can do," he said. "The key thing is just being in shape, which I am."
After playing in his first game in nearly 10 months, Collins said he felt fine and experienced no soreness. He took Monday off to finish the second part of his physical in the morning -- "stress tests and all that fun stuff" -- and then spent the rest of the afternoon with Jarron, his wife and their three children.
As far as when he expects the media coverage surrounding him to subside, Collins said he has no idea. Ultimately, it's out of his control.
"That's kind of up to you guys, it's not up to me," he said. "With regards to the media, again, there's only so many ways you can write the story, there's only so many ways you can talk about the off-the-court stuff until the focus is basketball and how the team is doing."