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Report: Perceived potential for media attention keeping Jason Collins from an NBA roster

Oct 22, 2013, 11:16 PM EDT

NBA player Jason Collins marches in the Gay Pride Parade in Boston Reuters

Jason Collins played 12 largely anonymous NBA seasons, and will likely end up being known more for an announcement involving his sexuality rather than for his contributions on the basketball court.

Collins announced he was gay shortly after his season ended in April, but has yet to be signed by another team for the upcoming season despite his readiness to join an NBA roster.

It’s perfectly reasonable to use Collins’ lack of production as the reason he remains unemployed, but at least one league executive believes that the attention his signing might bring is just as much of a factor.

From Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

Several GMs said the aversion to Collins isn’t over concern about how his sexuality will play in the locker room, but over the relentless media attention it will generate. “If it were just an initial blast and you knew it would settle down after that, it would be one thing,” said one executive. “But you know this is something that he and his teammates are going to be asked about everywhere they go, all season long, and all it takes is one guy to say something a little off and it could really blow up. He’s still good enough to play in the league, but when you throw in the ongoing media frenzy, most teams are going to decide it’s just not worth it.”

Meanwhile, Zach Lowe of Grantland believes that Collins will eventually draw interest, but not until midway though the season.

Early January brings 10-day contracts and the drop-dead date (January 10) after which all partially guaranteed contracts become fully guaranteed for the season. Teams will cut players ahead of January 10 for some cap savings, opening up roster spots and generating some churn. A bunch of team executives have earmarked this period as the time at which one team will sign Collins for his veteran leadership, screening, and post defense — and to make sure Collins’s brave statement gets its due attention.

It honestly would be great if a team signed Collins just to show support of his courage, but sadly, the NBA (like all professional sports leagues) simply doesn’t work that way.

If Collins could still play meaningful minutes, he’d already have a place on a roster. And if you’re inclined to disagree, go ahead and substitute his name with that of an All-Star and see where that gets you.

The fact that there are additional circumstances in his case which complicate things can’t be ignored, but teams want to win. If a GM believed he would help that goal, Collins would be in uniform before the end of business the very next day.

  1. redbearwoodall - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    It’s just like Tim Tebow. People care way too much about something that doesn’t matter, and neither of them have much to offer any teams, so both remained unsigned.

    • sportsfan18 - Oct 23, 2013 at 2:00 AM

      They are more similar than that. Tebow, while a great guy, simply can’t play in the NFL as a quarterback.

      Jason Collins had a PER of 3 last yr. That’s right, a 3.0 The league average PER is 15.0

      He’s had 2 seasons, his 1st and 3rd that were at 10 or higher and they were only 10.7 and 10.0.

      In the 2009/10 season, his PER was .9 Yes, point nine. His career average PER is only 7.1.

      He can’t play.

      His career FG% is .410 % What does this mean? He can’t shoot, that’s what it means.

      Since he’s always played sparingly, I’ll use the per 36 min’s stats for his rebounding since he’s supposed to be a good rebounder. For his career he has averaged 6.5 boards per 36 min’s of court time. Let me remind you that he’s 7 feet tall and he only averages 6.5 boards per 36 min’s.

      And in 3 out of the last 4 yrs it’s been below 6 boards per 36 min’s of court time. So for a 7 footer, he can’t rebound either.

      True, that it would be a circus for whatever team would sign him due to his being gay, but if he shot well over 50% from the field like other 7 footers and grabbed boards at around 9 or 10 per 36 min’s and had a PER that was above the league average… he’d ALREADY be on a team right now as his being gay wouldn’t have prevented that.

      People will try to make this out as his being gay for the reason he isn’t signed.

      It’s a combination of things. Due to his poor numbers… most teams will rightfully say and think that the distraction isn’t worth it for what he brings to the team on the floor.

      If his numbers were better, it would offset the circus that would come from him being gay and he’d be employed already.

  2. billsfanaddict - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    “hashtag” facepalmsmhamagadwtfwhodidntseethiscomingherecomestherestofthepreseasonnewnewsobsessionwhyisthisstillanissuewhocaresandwhosbusinessisithowhewantstolivehislifeorhowownerswannaruntheirbusinessesanyhow

    well, soon [give it a couple wks & couple hundred articles] we wont even be able to call it “beating a dead horse” b/c the corpse/story will be completely indecernable from TMZ at its worst/finest

  3. biasedhomer - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Media is just making this nonstory into a story.
    Collins offers very little over a free agent, unproven rookie. Collins isn’t that good, why can’t people just say that?

    • trbowman - Oct 23, 2013 at 1:34 AM


    • Kevin S. - Oct 23, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      He does have value in a very specific role as a post defender, the fifteenth man that you’re only going to really dust off when you need somebody to contain Tim Duncan or Dwight Howard or Roy Hibbert or Brook Lopez but who probably won’t be active on most nights. He also has a lot of value as a locker room presence and mentor, something teams and players around the league value. If the Nets weren’t already so deep in the frontcourt, I’m fairly certain they would have already signed him, and I do agree with Lowe that some team will eventually.

      • biasedhomer - Oct 23, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        The whole “mentor” role is overrated to begin with. The coach is supposed to be the primary mentor, but if a player also needs someone closer to their age who is still playing in the league, every team already has veteran(s) that can teach.

        As for his defensive prowess that keeps getting brought up, hes been averaging around 10 minutes a game over the past few years, while playing in only about 30 games a season. At best, he is average at containing the other teams bigs. Along with his age, and completely being a blackhole on the offensive end, he just isn’t good enough.

        If you had to pick between giving a young, unknown commodity (who possibly could do more than Collins on the floor) a roster spot, or Collins, it would be hard to pass the youngster.

  4. brooklynsduke - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    Give it a rest. JC was a serviceable defensive minded center in his prime (which was over 5 years ago) and has become just another 6 fouls for the coach to use. Gay or strait, it doesn’t matter… if the guy had any game left in the tank he’d be employed.

  5. antistratfordian - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    Kenny Smith was on Open Court saying that someone should sign Collins just to make a statement – and that the social statement is more important than anything that can happen in a basketball season. No one agreed with him.

    I see his point and I might agree with him – I fancy myself as a crusader as well – but I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it that much. But it will get a lot easier for our gay brothers if/when someone signs Collins and we can get the initial hullabaloo out of the way.

    A bad team might as well do it. A Suck for Wiggins team. Why not?

  6. brooklynsduke - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    I agree completely with Biased… gay or straight, it doesn’t matter. If CJ could still play, he’d have a job somewhere.

  7. timb12 - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    I agree with the Tebow sentiment. The media turns people into distractions. I’m sure if they were going to make Carlos Delfino stories every day, he probably wouldn’t be playing.

    Very few fans/people are inherently against certain teams/players outside of rivalries. But other fans and the media make it hard to not like some guys and the coverage on them.

  8. torontofalcon - Oct 23, 2013 at 1:09 AM

    He’s not on a team cause he sucks not because he’s gay okay

  9. 00maltliquor - Oct 23, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    Why isn’t PETA all up in arms by now? This poor horse has been beaten to dust! Oh the humanity!

  10. trbowman - Oct 23, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    “It honestly would be great if a team signed Collins just to show support of his courage, but sadly, the NBA (like all professional sports leagues) simply doesn’t work that way.”

    What courage?

    Guy goes from no name, fringe roster player to being lauded by the media, actually having a recognizable name, getting speaking opportunities, drawing positive attention and keeping his name in the history books for being one of the first to “come out.” If getting THAT requires courage to do…..

    • adamsjohn714 - Oct 23, 2013 at 3:58 AM

      coming out in the NBA is different than just the regular world. The NBA locker room is comprised of young black men, a demographic that is notoriously homophobic. Also, being the first to do something requires a tiny bit of courage. I’m certain that he isn’t the first gay NBA player, but I guess those other guys accidentally kept it a secret in a very brave way.

    • chrislam111288 - Oct 23, 2013 at 4:06 AM

      You have a good heart and the right intentions. But you’re living in a fantasy movie with a typical happy ending if they are going to sign Jason just because of that. Get real. I’m not saying he’s not courages. The bottom line is, can he play? Can he contribute? Who gives a f&#! if he is gay or not.

    • antistratfordian - Oct 23, 2013 at 4:48 AM

      Riiiiight. You know it’s 2013 – gay players would’ve come out ages ago if there was so much to be gained by it. Millions and millions of men have come out in America, yet only 1 active player in the NBA has ever done so. There’s a reason for that. Playing pro sports in the United States – well, you might as well be in Saudi Arabian Special Forces. You are risking everything you worked so hard to attain since you were a kid – every dream you ever had for yourself as an athlete – the only source of income and the only profession you have ever known; the fear is that can all be washed away instantly by coming out.

      And there really isn’t anything that is going to make facing your friends and family any easier – “name recognition” is not going to ease the burden. “Yeah Dad I’m gay, but this isn’t going to be uncomfortable and life changing for anybody because I’m more famous now.” No. It is still going to be uncomfortable and life changing for everybody. And if a friend or a family member doesn’t want to talk to you anymore – if your sister doesn’t want you around her kids anymore – a book deal isn’t going to bring them back to you. These are not small concerns.

      And about these speaking opportunities you think he should be excited about… Collins never dreamed of becoming a motivational speaker, he dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player.

    • skids003 - Oct 23, 2013 at 7:58 AM

      Tell that one league executive to sign him. Any way you look at it, he’s not very good. That’s the bottom line.

  11. johngalt1783 - Oct 23, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    I agree he could be offered a ten day contact at some time later this season. However, if he is signed now he has to receive the vets minimum. His play at this time in his career does not warrant a vets minimum over say a rookie contact given to a player supposedly with some upside.

    He is just not good enough to warrant a vets minimum especially for a team that would have to luxury tax because of the signing or for a team that is already paying. Way too expensive for what he now brings on the court.

  12. multiplemiggs - Oct 23, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    What team would want an entire section of westboro baptist church people protesting all game

  13. shuttaman1990 - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Collin’s is not that good. Never really was.
    Wow he’s gay. Good that he came out as the first, but is he any good? Can he bring that spark an NBA team needs to bring it over that hill? NOPE!
    The NBA is a business, and teams are trying to win if he can’t bring that opportunity then he’s going to stay home.
    If he could help my Lakers I’d be all in for bringing him in, but he can’t.
    The media best not turn him staying at home as a homophobic strategy by the NBA to keep him out.

  14. divan22 - Oct 23, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Oh, the irony!

    Sites like PBT that keep this guy in the news, ONLY because he is gay, want him signed because it would generate clicks/views, which equals high ratings and additional ad revenue.

    Folks, that’s inequality. Just in the opposite direction.

    But here’s the kicker: they’re always sure to end their articles with insincere wishes that a team would overlook his sexuality and sign the poor guy.

    Reality: if they REALLY just wanted him to be treated like all other players, they wouldn’t be shining this spotlight on him.

    The result of their blatant, shameless inequality and ratings-gluttony: here’s another Jason Collins report… that teams don’t want to give Collins a chance BECAUSE OF said media attention.

    Gee, what a surprise!!! It’s sad how journalistic integrity appears to be extinct.

    I’ll bet Collins wishes you journalists would all shut up and finally TREAT HIM LIKE AN EQUAL… you know, the thing you journalists refuse to do but then somehow expect an NBA franchise to do.

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      You are correct that in some ways our story choices are based on traffic they generate. Welcome to capitalism. What I have learned is that stories on Collins do generate more traffic, suggesting more interest in his story than other borderline NBA players. So we write about it. I also think it has an interesting cultural aspect as it is clear (based on polls) that the nation is moving more and more toward acceptance of this lifestyle.

      By clicking on and commenting on this story you have shown more about it’s draw and that I should write about it more. Thank you.

      • divan22 - Oct 25, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        1) no apostrophe needed in that last “it’s”. Who hired you? How on earth does someone who’s SO BAD with basic grammar have a job as a writer for a somewhat-popular website? Never ceases to amaze me. Seriously, why don’t you hire an editor? At least get someone competent to proofread your work.

        2) you can write about whatever you want, and as someone who also works in the media (TV), I understand these choices entirely. Just stop trying to play both sides. It comes across as phony and insincere. You don’t give a crap about Collins and his desire to keep playing (aside from the continued milking of the story your site would enjoy), so don’t act high-and-mighty with your “wishes” that someone would pick him up. It’s the attention FROM THE MEDIA that will likely keep teams from signing him. You’re keeping him in the news because he’s “the gay player” and it will generate clicks. But then those clicks ultimately lead to NBA teams passing on Collins because they don’t want the distractions.

  15. skinsfanwill - Oct 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    This dude was washed up in the league after his second year. Matter of fact, he was never good. That’s why nobody wants him. He has been roster filler since he entered the league. No skills whatsoever. He is just trying to sell a book now.

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