Sunday was a landmark day in the National Basketball Association, as veteran center Jason Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first openly gay player to do so.
The news swept across the league, so much so that Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek was asked about it during his pre-game media session Sunday night.
“Jason is one of those smart players,” Hornacek said. “He knows the game in and out. If we had a need for a big guy, we would have went after him. It was just a fact of we didn’t have that need. We had three bigs at the time.
“I’m glad for him that he’s back in the league. I was in Utah when his brother Jarron was there. They’re great guys. It’s good to see him back.”
Hornacek wasn’t the only one to share his thoughts about Collins’ historic signing.
Former Sun Kevin Johnson, who was honored by the organization Sunday for the 20th anniversary of his dunk over Hakeem Olajuwon, noted that originally he wasn’t a ‘big fan’ of Collins, because the two attended rival universities — Cal and Stanford.
However, the 2014 Naismith Hall of Fame finalist said that the minute Collins came out publicly last April, all rivalries went out the window.
“As soon as he came out and made his comments in the Sports Illustrated story, we all have a responsibility to support him,” said Johnson, who now serves as the mayor of Sacramento. “I’ve been a huge supporter. I saw him two weeks ago at the White House and thanked him for his courage and for being strong.
“I wished him well and said, ‘Keep fighting hard.’ I think it’s incredible. I think it’s incredible for him. It’s incredible for the league. If I’m the Nets, my commitment is I want to make the playoffs and go far. All of that is fine, but I need him to help me win games. And, I think he’s up for the challenge.”
Collins has played for six different teams (Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn/New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and Washington Wizards) during his 12-year NBA career.