Leading Off: NBA closes door after Collins comes out

10/19/2013 12:00 AM

10/18/2013 11:50 PM

When Jason Collins became the first active American professional male athlete to announce he is gay, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Charles Barkley called it "a great day for the NBA."

Shaquille O'Neal said he was proud of Collins for "showing all of us what leadership looks like."

John Wall of the Washington Wizards called Collins a "great teammate and mentor."

The support didn't stop with the NBA. Baseball players, NFL stars, singers, actors and politicians applauded Collins' courage. Many called him the modern-day Jackie Robinson, major-league baseball's first black player.

But since Collins came out of the closet last spring, the NBA has closed its doors. A free agent, Collins had no contract offers in the offseason and no invitations to training camps.

The likelihood of Collins being the first "active" gay professional athlete looks doubtful with the regular season a little more than a week away.

NBA training camp rosters are filled with players with less experience and skill than Collins, yet no team is giving him a chance.

Is it that teams don't want the hassle – positive or negative – of dealing with an openly gay athlete? Do players truly want a gay man showering alongside them, dressing in the same locker room?

Or is it that NBA teams don't want to pay the veteran-minimum of $1.4 million to an unathletic, 34-year-old big man who averaged just 1.1 points and and 1.6 rebounds last season?

Many will say Collins came out too late. But like so many other gays and lesbians, he chose to come out when he was ready.

What we don't know is whether or not the NBA was ready.

What to watch

College football: No. 9 UCLA at No. 13 Stanford, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 10: The Cardinal and Bruins meet in a midseason showdown.

Weekend poll

Why is Jason Collins not on an NBA roster?

Because teams don't want a gay player.

Because he's an aging veteran with fading skills.

Vote above; or go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Friday's results

Has social media had a negative effect on high school sports?

Yes: 85%

No: 15%

Total votes: 109

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