*The first openly gay player on an active NBA roster revealed Thursday that he has heard negative comments from another player during a game.
Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins refused to name the player or his team, reports the AP. He told ESPNNewYork.com that he did not react to the comments while on the court.
“There’s no need to even engage in a conversation with him at that point,” Collins said. “In the flow of the game, you have emotions going. It goes back to controlling what I can control — having self control and having the discipline to recognize it for what it is and keep the focus on the game.
“We’re all human. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. You hope that if someone has a negative opinion, that they would keep it to themselves. But at the same time, I understand that in the NBA, we’re a bunch of individuals and this is America and everyone’s entitled to their opinion.”
Collins acknowledged earlier Thursday to the New York Daily News that the incident occurred.
“One player, one knucklehead from another team,” Collins told the Daily News. “He’s a knucklehead. So I just let it go. Again, that goes back to controlling what you can control. That’s how I conduct myself — just being professional.”
Collins reiterated that overall, the reception toward him has been overwhelmingly positive.
“This was the only incident,” Collins told ESPNNewYork.com. “I don’t know how many players and coaches that I’ve faced. It’s been over 100, I would say. … But again, the focus is on the games and our team and our next opponent.”
The Nets signed Collins to a 10-day contract on Feb. 23. Later that day, he became the first openly gay athlete to play in one of North America’s four major professional sports when he debuted against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Collins signed a second 10-day deal after his first one expired, and on March 15 was signed for the remainder of the season.
Collins has appeared in 10 games with the Nets, averaging 8.4 minutes. Since signing with the Nets, Collins’ No. 98 jersey has been a top seller on NBAStore.com.