Jason Collins signs contract with Brooklyn Nets, becomes first openly gay player in NBA

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Jason Collins

Jason Collins became the NBA’s first active openly gay player Sunday, signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, the Associated Press reported.

Collins will join the Nets for their game Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers. The 35-year-old center revealed at the end of last season he is gay, but he was a free agent and had remained unsigned.

With a need for another big man, the Nets turned to the 7-foot Collins, who helped them reach two NBA Finals in the early 2000s.

“The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” 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.”

Collins has played 12 NBA seasons, including his first seven with the Nets, when they were in New Jersey and Jason Kidd was their point guard. Kidd is now the Nets’ coach and Collins has been a teammate of several other current Nets.

“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,” Commissioner Adam Silver said.

The Nets worked out Collins during the All-Star break and met with him again Sunday, with his twin brother, Jarron, hinting that history would be made.

“Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday. Today should be a pretty cool day!” Jarron Collins wrote on Twitter.

The news on Collins comes as Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri who recently revealed he is gay, is taking part in the NFL draft combine. Sam’s on-field workouts in Indianapolis are scheduled for Monday.

Jason Collins played 38 games last season with Boston and Washington and averaged 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds in limited minutes. For his career, the 7-foot Collins averages 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds.

His announcement last spring was followed by numerous NBA players insisting he would be welcomed in the locker room. Collins has played for five other teams and is well respected inside and outside the league — he attended the State of the Union as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.

“I just know Jason as a person and as a player. That’s what I’m happy about. He has earned it. He’s a great guy. It’s good for the league. The important thing is to judge him as a person and a basketball player,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.

“I know people who have coached him, and I know how highly thought of he is.”

The Nets had an opening for a big man after trading Reggie Evans along with Jason Terry to Sacramento on Wednesday for guard Marcus Thornton. King said Thursday that Collins would be among the players they would look at, insisting they wouldn’t be concerned about any extra attention the signing of Collins would provide.

“We’re going to bring in a basketball player,” King said. “It’s not about marketing or anything like that.”

The Nets posted a photo on their Twitter account of Kidd watching Collins sign his contract, encouraging followers to retweet it to welcome Collins to Brooklyn.

Collins is tied for third in Nets history with 510 games played, and also ranks in their top 10 in minutes played, and offensive rebounds and total rebounds. A limited offensive player, the Nets hope he still provides a presence defensively and on the boards.

“I know Jason Collins is a competitor. One thing I know about him is he fouls very hard,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said with a laugh. “He’s one of those tough veterans. I’m sure he’s happy to be back playing in the league. Welcome back.”

—  Steve Ramos

Mark Cuban wonders if he’s a homophobe

Cuban emphatically states his case.

Dan Devine over at the Ball Don’t Lie sports blog reported earlier today on Mark Cuban’s comment yesterday to “The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons for a recording of the podcast The B.S. Report. Winding down the weekend’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Simmons and Cuban engaged in conversation of The KissCam which apparently took an awkward turn. From Ball Don’t Lie:

And then, as Carly Carioli of the Boston Phoenix wrote in a blog post accompanying an excellent feature story on the conference, “the atmosphere turned even weirder.”

… Cuban began telling the story of how he’d almost fired a Mavs employee for encouraging Dallas fans to do the wave. Cuban hates the wave. “I’d rather have 60 minutes of Kiss Cam,” he said, to laughs. Simmons has long been on record as being a fan of the Kiss Cam [...] and piped up in favor of it. “I like the Kiss Cam,” Simmons said.

“That’s because you and your boyfriend are always on it,” Cuban spat.

Chances are, if you’ve read or listened to content created by Bill Simmons over the past seven years, you’ve caught wind of the fact that he’s married to a woman, and that the two of them have children. Not that those things would, or do, preclude a man from also liking men and/or having boyfriends, but, y’know, for the record, there’s been no public indication that Bill Simmons is gay.

Devine later goes on to criticize Cuban’s remark as adolescent. By all accounts, it appears The Boston Phoenix’s Carly Carioli was first on the scene with this post, labeling the remark homophobic. Gay sports site OutSports labeled it distasteful.

Cuban posted this today in Blog Maverick explaining his side. From Cuban:

I made a mistake in making the comment. I wasn’t trying to be hurtful. It wasn’t a comment on anyone’s sexuality. It was just me trying to be funny. It wasn’t. I quickly realized it and tried to fix it. I hoped at the time I didn’t offend anyone.

This blog post is not about trying to defend what I said. I’m not trying to defend my sense of humor. I’m not trying to convince you I’m not a homophobe. I’m not trying to justify anything at all.

I guess what I am doing is admitting that at some level I am prejudiced and that I recognize that I am.  There are a lot of things in my life that I need to improve at. This is one of them. Sometimes I make stupid throw away comments that I quickly realize are wrong. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. It was a mistake and I realized it. I learned from it.

I appreciate the straighties rushing to the side of the LGBT community when the homophobia bell alarms. That’s a nice feeling. We appreciate it. Really. But is this particular instance, that big of a deal? I mean, we do have a sense of humor.

—  Rich Lopez

Inaugural season starts Saturday for Dallas Gay B-Ball Association at Reverchon

Last month, I posted how there’s a new game in town as the Dallas Gay Basketball Association was forming and signing up members. Organizer Steven Coleman called me up yesterday to tell me that Saturday will be the first game day of their inaugural season. For the next seven weeks, the DGBA takes over every Saturday afternoon at Reverchon. And with an impressive number of members to boot.

“We’ve had 42 people sign up,” Coleman says. “So right now, we have six teams of seven.”

They have capped membership for now to avoid being overwhelmed, but that’s a healthy way to start the first season.

Coleman says that an additional two weeks will play after the season for playoffs. The hope is to start a summer league, but right now, the focus is on getting the word out about tomorrow.

The DGBA plays from 2–5 p.m. at the Reverchon Rec.

 

—  Rich Lopez

Lesbian saves Orthodox Jewish athletes

Beren Academy

Mayor Annise Parker has prevailed. She intervened in the case of an Orthodox Jewish high school in Houston and according to the Houston Chronicle, they will be allowed to compete.

For the first time in its history, the Beren Academy’s basketball team is competing in Class 2A in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) state basketball championships. But the Beren School is an Orthodox Jewish school and the state championships are played on Friday night — Shabbat.

Parker noted in her complaint to state officials that Texas already makes a religious exemption — games are not played on the Christian sabbath, Sunday.

The school would have had to forfeit.

With the change in time to Friday afternoon, the school will be able to compete and the Texas basketball champs (Class 2A) may just be — the Orthodox Jewish kids from Houston. Even Reform synagogues in Dallas are cheering for them.

Which reminds us of the great line from the movie Airport.

“Oh stewardess. Do you have something light to read?”

“Yes, I have this pamphlet, Great Jewish Sports Heroes.”

—  David Taffet

Drawing Dallas • 11.25.11

As ‘Twilight’ returns, Skylar Brooks shows blood sucking can be a service

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Skylar Brooks, 24

Occupation: Testing coordinator, Resource Center Dallas, and shift manager, Starbucks

Spotted at: Exxon on the Run at Maple and Oak Lawn

A twinkle in her unbelievably pale blue eyes and an effervescent smile are the first things you notice about this fine Virgo. Born in Monroe, La., and raised in Euless and Bedford, the perpetually positive Skylar considers herself a clown and a jokester — smiles and laughter come to her quite freely. She came out at 16.

She loves the nightlife. Skylar loves to dance, and her freestyle moves on the floor have garnered her three “dance off” wins at Station 4. She also loves to sing, especially R&B (Brian McKnight is a favorite). She auditioned for American Idol last year, and while she didn’t get through, says she’s determined to try again. Her love of music and dance is hereditary: Her mother was on the drill team and danced ballet, and her father plays drums and the trumpet and loves to belt out a song.

In addition to indoor activities, she plays midfield and forward in a local soccer league, and basketball for fun. Skylar loves to travel, she has a special affinity for the Caribbean (Dominican Republic, Bahamas).

Enter love  “Three months in, I knew she was the one,” says Skylar of her fiancé, Shereen, whom she met through mutual friends 18 months ago; they have a wedding set in Vermont next June. Both of their families are excited for them.

Skylar’s goal is to become a surgical technician. Her motto: “I help people one blood draw at a time.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Trans player’s hoops career cut short by injuries

Kye Allums

Kye Allums, the George Washington University junior who made headlines last fall by coming out as a transgender person while remaining on the school’s women’s basketball team, announced this week that he would not be returning to the team for his senior year because of injuries, according to several published reports, including this one at FoxNews.com.

Allums said in a prepared statement that he came to the decision on his own that it is “no longer in my best interests” to play basketball, and he thanked the school’s athletic department for respecting his wishes.

When he came out as transgender last November, Allums explained that he was postponing hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgery so that he could remain eligible to play on the women’s basketball team. However, Allums said this week that after suffering two concussions in the 2010-11 season, he has decided not to continue to play basketball.

Although Alllums started 20 games in his sophomore year at George Washington, he played in only eight games this season because of the concussions. He told the Associated Press in March that he has suffered a total of eight concussions overall and that he has been experiencing memory loss, a common symptom of multiple concussions. He said doctors told him that if he were a football player rather than a basketball player, his career would have ended even sooner.

A post by Eammon Brenna on ESPN’s College Basketball Nation Blog praised Allum’s courage in coming out as transgender, saying: “In essence, Allums’ change was about identity, about helping the external match the internal, and it raised awareness of transgender identity issues in an arena where even homosexuality remains a hotly debated subject. … It’s sad to see any player’s career cut short by injuries. But I’d argue it’s even sadder to see Allums — whose public bravery no doubt served as inspiration to even a (presumably) small number of athletes with transgender identities — unable to live out his final season with his teammates.”

—  admin

Kye Allums, The First Trans Man to Play NCAA Division I Basketball

When college basketbal player Kye Allums (nee Kay-Kay) hits the court Nov. 13 for George Washington University's season opener, it'll be the first time an openly trans Division I player plays ball. The junior, a Minnesota native who grew up resisting his mother's best efforts to dress him in feminine clothes, began coming out to teammates as trans during his sophomore year, and eventually managed to have that conversation in June with head coach Mike Bozeman, who told his he would always have his back.

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—  admin