New Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins spoke to the media prior to the Nets' game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and Collins stressed that he's focused on helping the team win games. Brooklyn signed Collins to a 10-day contract earlier in the day, officially making him the first active openly gay player in the United States' four major professional sports leagues.
While Collins has made history, he wants the focus to be on basketball and not his sexuality, via Tom Lorenzo of NetsDaily:
"I just need to be a solid basketball player. It's about focusing on basketball, not about history."
Collins really hammered the point home:
"Right now I'm focused on trying to learn the plays, learn the coverages... I don't have time to think about history."
Collins hasn't played since last April with the Washington Wizards, so it will likely take a little time to get his legs under him. But the 35-year-old believes he can help contribute, talking about what he can bring to the table:
"First of all, my experience. A solid veteran. Hopefully my mind will be in the right place, see if my body will be in the right place... I'm a defensive player first, and that's what I pride myself on. Now it's just me getting comfortable and working on my assignments."
The Nets are trying to find ways to give Kevin Garnett as much rest as possible before the playoffs, and Collins is the type of defensive-minded big that could help take some of those minutes. However, don't expect anything too crazy from the big man:
WHAT? No "Set Shot Willie"?? "guys pretty much know my game. I'm not going to all of a sudden have a 40-inch vertical and shoot 3s"— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) February 24, 2014
A reporter asked Collins what he would say to young people who are in the position he once was. "My message is just to be your true authentic self," he said.
Collins will be available to play on Sunday.
Update: Collins entered the game in the second quarter: