The Brooklyn Nets have officially signed Jason Collins to a ten-day contract, the team announced at 3:15 P.M. on Sunday, February 23rd, making him the first openly gay active male athlete in the history of the four major US professional sports.
Collins will suit up for the Nets and be available tonight for their game against the Los Angeles Lakers. He will wear #46 tonight, then wear #98 in the future. Collins wore #98 with the Boston Celtics as a tribute to Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in 1998.
“The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” Nets general manager Billy King said in a statement. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.”
The ten-day contract keeps Collins until March 5th. The Nets can sign Collins to one additional ten-day contract then, and will have to decide then if they want to keep him past March 15th for the rest of the season.
There’s a strong push in the organization to hold on to Collins for the rest of the season. They’ve made a practice of not playing center Kevin Garnett in back-to-back games, increasing the need for depth at the center position. Because of this, the Nets want added insurance for the second half of back-to-backs, a team source confirmed. Out of seven back-to-back sets in the rest of the season, only one comes in the next ten days, and only one more in the following ten.
Collins joins the team as their 14th man, and the team stressed that his sexuality and a chance at making history had nothing to do with their decision.
“(It was) a basketball decision only… I think we all understand the historic implications but that was an afterthought,” a team source told The Brooklyn Game.
Collins’s ten-day contract will cost the Nets $50,000 in salary, and roughly $250,000 in luxury taxes.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released this statement on the signing:
Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team. Today, I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment.