Following his historic admission last year, Jason Collins will finally get a chance to make history as the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the four major professional sports leagues. The 35-year-old NBA journeyman will reportedly join the Brooklyn Nets on a ten-day contract and play in a game later today against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The sports world had already been preparing to have its gay barrier broken with the likely drafting of University of Missouri standout lineman Michael Sam, who came out earlier this month and prompted a national discourse about acceptance among professional athletes. However, with the signing of Collins, the moment (and the test) is now here. Sam tweeted his support for Collins earlier today.
The path here was much less certain in Collins' case. The solid-but-undistinguished center was 34-years-old and unsigned when he came out in a Sports Illustrated cover story last April. Reactions to his announcement were both encouraging and discouraging, but the question of whether he would ever play in the league persisted as the NBA season started in October and Collins remained a man without a team.
Suddenly, Brooklyn Nets were need of a big man as they dealt with injuries, including their center (and Collins' former teammate) Brook Lopez. Collins' phone rang and here we are.
Updated, 10:39 p.m.: And here he is, taking the court for the first time.