The Nets finally made news on the basketball court this season by signing Jason Collins, the first openly gay professional athlete in one of North America’s Big Four sports, to a 10-day contract this weekend. Unlike the Nets’ expensive haircuttery, fighting coaches or sports yak radio-themed food stands, this is news that could actually cause you to consider going to see a Nets game. But should you take a trip down to the Spaceship that Bruce Ratner Built just to get a glimpse of Jason Collins camped out in the paint?
In the horrible, ultimate victory of neo-liberalism “vote with your dollars” sense, yes, the Nets should get a financial reward for officially breaking basketball’s sexual orientation barrier. In rejecting a bunch of toxic bullshit about distractions and disrupting team chemistry and players being “ready” for Collins, the Nets took a step that over one hundred other baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams were too cowardly to take. And in signing a guy who’s a limited role player, the Nets also sidestepped the idea that the first openly gay pro basketball player in America would have to cut from the same cloth as Pistol Pete, Michael Jordan or Lebron James, as opposed to just a guy who plays basketball competently.
All of that being said, if you’re buying a ticket so you can see Jason Collins play basketball, you’ll probably come away disappointed. Collins is a groundbreaking athlete and of course much much better than me at basketball, but he’s also not a guy you pay to go see. He averaged six points and six rebounds in his best year, and that was in 2004. In his first game back last night, Collins played 11 minutes, grabbed a couple rebounds, attempted one shot and collected a steal, which is about what you’ll see most nights that he plays. The Nets signed him to play defense, be a body to spell their big men and collect some fouls, so if you’re a casual basketball fan, it’s probably not going to be that exciting to watch Jason Collins bang with Zach Randolph or Kosta Koufos, unless you love defense.
Considering you can get a StubHub ticket for 10 bucks to see the Nets play a team like the Grizzlies or the Raptors or the Suns, it’s not like there’s a huge financial downside to going to a Nets game. And while he definitely fits in with their cast of washed-up old dudes perfectly, just keep in mind you might not even see Jason Collins step on the court on the night you go see the Nets play.