The Brooklyn Nets on Sunday signed Jason Collins to a 10-day contract, making him the National Basketball Association’s first openly gay player.
The team tweeted a picture of Collins signing the contract under the message “welcome @jasoncollins34 to Brooklyn!” ESPN reported the former Washington Wizards center could be dressed to play for Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We are entering a new era of inclusion with Jason Collins, the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA at the forefront,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “Jason may be the first, but he’s not the last.”
“With Jason Collins signing with the Nets today, I belive our world as professional athletes will open up and become less ignorate of gay male atheltes playing and more accepting and embracing of the whole situation,” added Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried.
Collins last April became the first male athlete who actively played in a major American professional sports league to come out as gay when Sports Illustrated published his op-ed.
He had remained unsigned since his announcement.
“There’s a lot of speculation as to why I haven’t signed,” Collins told the Washington Blade in December during an interview that marked the first time he spoke to an LGBT media outlet since he publicly declared his sexual orientation. “I choose to focus on what I can control and that’s how hard I work out.”
The deadline for NBA teams to send their playoff rosters to the league is March 1.
“That’s the ultimate deadline,” Collins told the Blade. “But up until that date I’m going to continue to work out, continue to train. I consider myself a free agent and I’m ready when and if an NBA team calls my name.”
The former Washington Wizards center last May attended a New York City fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council with First Lady Michelle Obama. Collins was also her guest at last month’s State of the Union address and attended a state dinner earlier this month held in honor of French President François Hollande.
Collins marched in Boston’s annual Pride parade in June with Massachusetts Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy, III, with whom he lived while they attended Stanford University. The former Washington Wizards center also introduced Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards before they performed their song “Same Love” that advocates for marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Collins was also among those who sat on a U.N. panel last December that commemorated the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He signed with the Brooklyn Nets two weeks after University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam came out to the New York Times and ESPN.
Sam, whom Collins congratulated after he publicly declared his sexual orientation, is poised to become the country’s first openly gay professional football player.