Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jason Collins And The Very, Or Not So, Important 10-Day Contract

Smile, You're Employed
So, on the off chance that you are living under a rock and this is the only Web site you can access, Brooklyn made American major sports history today by hiring an openly gay athlete, center Jason Collins, to a 10-day deal.

A few points, in case you know nothing about Collins: he's a marginal NBA player. Wrong side of 30, no real offensive game, with the size and willingness to commit hard fouls on defense and not much else. If he's part of your rotation, your team probably isn't going anywhere fast, and lo, does that ever describe this year's Nets team. With 75 years of Grizzled Vet in the starting lineup from the Celtic imports of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, not to mention the broken-down offerings of backcourt mates Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, and the bench offerings of Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn creaks in the wind, plays at the slowest pace this side of college coach-driven ball, and is designed solely to get to the post-season and make the game as ugly as humanly possible.

Brooklyn hired Collins because of injuries, of course; he's just not that good otherwise. He's also played with many of his teammates before, as well as coach Jason Kidd, but the dude bounced around the league for twelve years and six organizations (this is his second tour with the Nets) before this week's contract: there are probably over a hundred guys who have called him a teammate. He fits with Brooklyn, where he won't get slurs yelled at him from the home crowd, and the pace and tenor of the team.

And in the long run, it's all not going to matter very much. Collins is just a guy; his orientation has no impact, and never did. He went to Stanford and is well aware of his significance to history, so there's no chance that there will be further stories about this, if you get my gist...

But that, of course, assumes there isn't anything from the stands that happens. Tonight's game in LA should be as safe as houses, and Wednesday's tilt in Portland is also well on the side of progressive behavior... but Thursday in Denver could get some sign wavers, and next Saturday's game in Milwaukee might actually draw some good old-fashioned heartland hate. Brooklyn then has four of five games at home, with only a game in Boston in the mix. By then, Collins might be long gone, or such a non-story that no one even remembers him being here.

Which would be, well, its own form of progress.

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