Jason Collins said he expected to face adversity on and off the court when he became the first openly gay player in one of America’s four major professional sports after the Brooklyn Nets signed him on Feb. 23.
"One player, one knucklehead from another team," Collins said. He added that he "just let it go," accepting that he can’t control the words or actions of others.
"That goes back to controlling what you can control," he said. "That’s how I conduct myself — just being professional."
"This shows that "distraction" is B.S. That it’s about the team, it’s about the sport," Collins told the Daily News. "I hope this shows all players that you can still have your life off the court and not have to hide anything. And still have your life on the court or on the field or on the ice, I guess, in hockey. That’s a credit to my teammates and the entire Nets organization — from ownership to coaching to teammates to everyone."
After playing in his first game with the Nets, teammate Paul Pierce commended Collins, saying he would be able to "open up the door for athletes around the world."
"It doesn’t matter your race, gender or sexuality because it’s about being part of a team and caring for one another," Pierce said. "Every guy in here does their own thing and so be it. In this sport everything is magnified and it’s great to have him here to open up the doors for so many athletes."