Jason Collins (born 1978) is an American professional basketball player, who has played in the NBA since 2001. He has a twin brother, Jarron Collins, who also played professional basketball. Before his NBA career, he played at Stanford, along with his twin brother.
After being drafted in 2001, he played for six teams. His longest tenure was with the (then) New Jersey Nets, where he started for several seasons. He was never a spectacular player, and even in his best season only scored a little over six points a game. He played the center position, and was mostly used as a defensive enforcer, using non-spectacular but tough skills.
Jason Collins was a journeyman NBA player whose name was familiar only to close followers of basketball until May of 2013, when he revealed in a Sports Illustrated article that he was homosexual. He thus became the first active player in North America's big four sports leagues to announce that he was gay. He said that the one sign he had given of his orientation was his choice of 98 as a jersey number, in reference to 1998, the year that Matthew Sheppard, a gay college student, was brutally murdered. His announcement caused a large reaction, despite the fact that Collins himself was relatively unknown. Within the NBA, many players accepted Collins' revelation, and (as far as I can recall), there were no objections to playing with Collins. However, at the time, Collins was a free agent, unsigned for the next year. It was not until February of 2014 that the Brooklyn Nets (his relocated former team), short on players, signed him to a ten-day contract. So far, he has played three games. In those games, he has played around 20 minutes, and scored less than 10 points, total. And his jersey quickly became the number one selling jersey in the NBA. In other words, he seems to be well supported by the fans, and by his fellow players, both teammates and opponents. At 35 years of age, he will probably not be playing for much longer, but with his ten day contract he has made history.
Strangely enough, the fact that Jason Collins is in no way a stellar player (at least by NBA standards) might do a lot to communicate to people how images of homosexuality have changed. In the 1990s, Dennis Rodman liked to tease and provoke the press and public by a series of scandalous behaviors, including cross dressing and flamboyant, attention-seeking behavior. But despite Rodman's antics, he was not actually a sexual minority. Collins, on the other hand, is gay, but on the court is a solid role player and leader, and off the court is a mild-mannered Stanford graduate and professing Christian. To the many people who responded to his 10 day contract with the Nets by buying his Jersey, the appeal of Collins might not that he stands out, but that he fits in: that despite being a sexual minority in the still-macho world of professional sports, his main priority is working with his team-mates and doing his job.