And so Brooklyn welcomes another pioneering athlete.
Today, it is Jason Collins, a member of the Brooklyn Nets and now the first openly gay player to compete in one of country’s four most popular sports leagues. Nearly 70 years ago, of course, it was Jackie Robinson who came to Brooklyn and made history with the simple but courageous act of putting on a Dodgers’ uniform.
Unlike Robinson, Mr. Collins is not an elite athlete, at least not by professional standards. During his 10-plus years in the NBA, he may have been the lowest-scoring center in the league, except for his twin brother, the now-retired Jarron Collins. But Mr. Collins has been a thorough professional and a tough defender, prompting aggrieved complaints to the ref from those he guarded. His work ethic was on full display in his debut with Brooklyn the other day as he clogged up the middle, took a couple of hard fouls and played the sort of defense that is just a rumor in some NBA circles (including that other New York team, the Knicks).
This is Mr. Collins’ second go-round with the Nets. Last time he wore their uniform, the team was in New Jersey, their star was Jason Kidd, and Mr. Collins was living life in the shadows.
Now he’s playing in Brooklyn, Mr. Kidd is his coach, and he is who he is: a professional basketball player who happens to be gay.
Unlike Jackie Robinson, Mr. Collins isn’t ticketed for his sport’s Hall of Fame. But he is ensured of a special place in sports history, as is, once again, Brooklyn.