Jason Collins became the first openly gay player in the NBA this week.
And now his Brooklyn Nets jersey is selling like hot cakes.
Collins signed a 10-day contract yet he’s become a popular player with the Nets.
“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.”
Collins and the Nets beat the LA Lakers Sunday in a 108-102 game. Collins tallied five personal fouls, which is has been trademark since his 2001 debut in the league.
“Sometimes in life something happens and there’s an opportunity,” he said shortly before taking on the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night. “I’m very thankful for this opportunity. That’s why I work so hard, why I train the way I do so that when I do have an opportunity physically I’m not worried about my conditioning or cardio or anything along those lines.”
His 98 jersey has outsold many popular players — like Lebron James and Kevin Durant.
And he’s wearing it for good reason — gay pride as the NY Daily News reported.
Thursday night, Collins is playing against the Denver Nuggets where Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard who was murdered 16-years-ago in a brutal gay hate crime, will be attending the game.
She plans to give Collins a warm welcome to Denver if she sees him.
“I’m just happy for him. It’s wonderful that he’s playing again. I’d tell him thank you and give him a big hug. I have not met him but everyone I know that has has said he’s a gentleman, kind and generous. I’d like very much to thank him and congratulate him.”
Collins wore his 98 jersey as a tribute to Shepard — who was murdered in 1998 — during his Wednesday night game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Collins wanted to start wearing his 98 jersey Sunday night, but it was too short notice for the Nets to obtain the jersey.
“We were very touched,” Judy said. “For him to make that tribute to Matt was meaningful to us.”