Jason Collins not only became the NBA’s first active openly gay player Sunday afternoon by signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, but he also appeared in his first game against the Los Angeles Lakers later that same day, ESPN reports.
“I don’t have time to really think about history right now,” he told ESPN shortly after inking his short-term deal. “The pressure is playing in an NBA game tonight, and last time I played in an NBA game was last April,” Collins said. “So I think that’s enough pressure right there.”
The 35-year-old center entered with 10:28 to go in the second quarter and received a round of applause from the Staples Center crowd.
Collins wore No. 46 in Sunday’s game, but ESPN notes that the center will be wearing No. 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who died in a notorious anti-gay hate crime in 1998. Collins has worn the jersey number with both the Celtics and Wizards.
At the end of last season, Collins revealed that he was gay, but he was a free agent and had remained unsigned until Sunday.
“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 played 10 scoreless minutes, had two rebounds and five fouls.
“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 told ESPN.
Read more at ESPN.