News

NBA fans snap up jerseys honoring first openly gay player

NBA fans snap up jerseys honoring first openly gay player

JERSEY: Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins (46) waits to enter the game against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. Photo: Reuters/Gary A. Vasquez

By Edward Upright

NEW YORK (Reuters) – On Saturday veteran basketball center Jason Collins was unsigned. Now his “Collins 98″ jersey is the NBA’s best-selling shirt, outperforming the league’s global superstars.

Collins, 35, had been without a team after publicly coming out as gay in April 2013. Last weekend, he signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets and made history on Sunday as the first openly gay athlete to play in North America’s major leagues.

After the game – Collins played for 11 minutes and didn’t score a single point – the NBA started selling his jersey at its New York store and online, and it flew off the shelves. By Tuesday it was the league’s most popular jersey, said Vicky Picca, NBA Senior Vice President.

“Jason Collins’ return to the league represents a historic moment and fans continue to show their support by making Jason’s jersey the top-selling jersey on NBAStore.com today,” Picca said on Wednesday.

The NBA declined to provide sales figures.

Collins got a congratulatory message on Twitter from football player Michael Sam, who came out earlier this month and is likely to be the first gay player in the NFL after the league draft in May. “Congratulations to my friend @jasoncollins34 – excited to see you do work out there #Brooklyn,” Sam tweeted.

Collins, who wore jersey number 98 for Boston and Washington in 2012 and 2013, chose that number in tribute to Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was brutally murdered in October 1998.

He hasn’t worn his famous jersey yet for the Nets, which did not have time to print the shirt for Sunday’s game, leaving him to wear the only number available: 46.

The Nets will play the Portland Trail Blazers in Oregon on Wednesday night – and Collins will wear his No. 98 jersey then, a Nets spokesman said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Osterman)

Recent Headlines

in National, World

U.S says Russia violated nuclear treaty, urges immediate talks

Fresh
FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. Obama and Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during their bilateral meeting.

In another sign of deteriorating relations, the U.S. government claims that Moscow has violated the Cold War treaty.

in National, World

Civilians killed in eastern Ukraine amid fierce fighting

Fresh
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard on the suburbs of Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region on July 28, 2014.

Intense fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine kills at least 19 civilians.

in National

Toy drone disrupts aircraft fighting California wildfire

Fresh
Firefighters protect an evacuated home while the fast-moving wildfire called "Sand Fire" burns behind, near Plymouth, California on July 26, 2014.

Fire officials spotted a drone over the Sand Fire and immediately called police to have the toy grounded to avoid a possible mid-air collision.

in Sports

Judge gives go-ahead for $2 billion sale of NBA’s Clippers

Fresh
With her attorney Pierce O'Donnell, right, Shelly Sterling, center, talks to reporters after a judge ruled in her favor and against her estranged husband, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the NBA basketball team, outside Los Angeles Superior Court, Monday, July 28, 2014.

Shelly Sterling can proceed with the record $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers despite her husband's objections, a judge ruled on Monday.

in National, World

Israel strikes house of Hamas Gaza leader

Fresh
A Palestinian walks on the rubble of the house of the top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, hit by a pre-dawn Israeli strike, in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Early Tuesday, Israel warplanes struck a series of targets in Gaza City, including Haniyeh's house and government offices, while Gaza's border area with Israel was hit by heavy tank shelling.

Israel's military pounded targets in the Gaza Strip after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country should prepare for a long conflict in the Palestinian enclave.