Jason Collins becomes the first pro athlete in a major US team sport to 'come out'
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04-30-2013, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Guelph, ON
Ed Stefanski, VP Operations for the Toronto Raptors, and the man who drafted Collins when he began playing in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets was just interviewed on the Larry Flick show on Sirius OutQ108. Stefanski said that Collins is a minimum player, meaning he wouldn’t be expected to earn more than the minimum salary in the NBA. His skill set is average, he is not a superstar by any means and he is clearly on the tail end of his career. He’s 34 now but still has two, maybe three years left in him.
Stefanski said however, there are three things that make Collins remarkable. One, he may quite possibly have the “highest NBA IQ” in the league. He is literally one of the smartest players on the court. He understand the game better than most ever possibly could, and he will certainly make his way into management, maybe even coaching when his playing career ends. Two, he is 7’ tall. While he is old by most standards, and less mobile than he was, he can still get in under the net to defend and his size would still make him a real asset to any team, especially in late game situations. No coach would hesitate to slot him in as their third center and put him into a game at crucial moments. Three, his intelligence and experience make him a great role model and teacher for younger players. He is remarkably friendly, funny, smart and easy going. He is a natural leader and could easily help meld a team into a cohesive group. This third point seems to fly in the face of what many others are saying, that him being gay might become a divisive factor. Stefanski said quite the opposite and agreed with the host that this is indeed a watershed moment. Much like with Jackie Robinson, people will just eventually get over their own insecurities, or be made to get over them.
Stefanski said that because Collins is becoming a minimum free agent, he will likely be signed by a team near the end of the summer, possibly just before training camp. Nobody should conclude that him not being signed immediately in July is any indication of any adverse reaction to his coming out, but rather that it is just a structural expectation of the way teams sign this type of player and how they tend to leave till the last minute those players that can help fill important, albeit non-crucial, roles in their line-ups.
He also said he wouldn’t hesitate to sign Collins, although he didn’t say he would, or that he was necessarily looking for a player with his attributes. All in all, a very positive endorsement of Collins, the player and the man.
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