SBD/May 1, 2013/Sports in Society

Collins' Revelation Unlikely To Impact Wizards' Decision On Whether To Re-Sign Him

Bringing Collins back reportedly was never among the Wizards' top offseason priorities
Wizards C Jason Collins' revelation that he is gay will have "no influence" on the team's plans with him this offseason when he becomes a free agent, according to a source cited by Michael Lee of the WASHINGTON POST. Collins has "limited skills," so bringing him back was "never among the team’s priorities -- and that has not changed" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/1). In Illinois, Mike Imrem writes Collins "won't need a police escort everywhere he visits around the NBA next season but will need support from his team and teammates," and the Bulls would be the "right group to provide it." Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf has been "intent on creating a culture of inclusion" on both teams (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 5/1). CSNWASHINGTON.com's J. Michael wrote Collins "definitely would not end up" in a small market like Oklahoma City. Aside from the Thunder "not having a need, religion, perception and how a player would be received by the community plays a major role in how that front office constructs the roster" (CSNWASHINGTON.com, 4/30). SI.com's Chris Ballard wrote if Collins "stays in the league, he will be a lumbering, charge-taking conversational catalyst." Stories will be "written about his teammates, and opponents, and how he's treated by fans." He will be an "ambassador and hero to some." He will be an "object of derision for others." But we will "never know how his peers and coaches will react -- how we will react -- unless he plays." One Western Conference team exec said, "There's a dearth of bigs and he's the guy you call right before Labor Day. Frankly, now he's more interesting. I think this could help his career" (SI.com, 4/30). TNT analyst Steve Kerr said, "He's definitely worth adding to your roster" (AP, 4/30).

WEIGHING THE OPTIONS: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes the question now is whether an NBA team will "have the guts to sign Jason Collins" or will his "ground-breaking announcement also turn out to be a career-ending one" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/1). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote teams have to "weigh the limited contributions of the player against the extraordinary attention he'll generate." Adande: "Some teams might actually want to sign him because of the historic aspects and a desire to be part of the progress." ESPN.com's Israel Gutierrez wrote he can "envision a progressive-minded owner signing Collins not only to utilize his abilities but also to make a statement." The "worst statement that could possibly be made" is if Collins does not sign with anyone, as there would then be a "handful of people who assume it happened because he was gay." Gutierrez: "I doubt that'll happen" (ESPN.com, 4/30). CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb believes Collins will be signed by a team this summer. Gottlieb said, "He's not going to be picked up, I don’t believe, because he’s the first homosexual NBA player, but because he’s a pro’s pro. Because he shows up to work every practice” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 4/30). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said NBA Commissioner David Stern “will make sure” that Collins is on a team next year. Kornheiser: “The NBA, among other leagues, has long anticipated and planned for the announcement of an openly gay player. If he doesn’t play, no matter what their intentions are, it will look like the NBA colluded to get rid of him because of his sexual orientation” (“PTI,” ESPN, 4/30).

COLLINS CONFIDENT ABOUT BEING SIGNED: Collins said that his NBA experience "would be an asset to any team" looking to sign him. He said, "You can knock me all you want, but professional basketball players are an elite group and I've been doing it 12 years." He said that he was "confident his sexual orientation would not become an issue in the locker room." Collins: "I'll be waiting for someone to make the first joke, we'll all laugh and then we'll get out there and play" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/1).
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