Impatient Brooklyn Nets fans tired of waiting for the chance to witness another historical milestone — in the same borough that debuted Jackie Robinson 67 years ago — began chanting "Jason Collins! Jason Collins!" in hope of seeing the first publicly gay man to participate in a major professional American team sport debut on his home court.
After it appeared Collins might not play for the first time in his five games as a Net on Monday night, even with many family and friends looking on at Barclays Center — as well as notables such as former NBA commissioner David Stern — coach Jason Kidd finally granted their wishes.
With the Nets in control, 92-75, and headed to a victory over the Bulls, Collins entered the game with 2:41 left and received a quick standing ovation before play resumed.
"It was cool,'' he said after finishing with one rebound, one steal, one foul and one missed shot. "It was a lot of fun to go into a game. The most important thing is we got the win.''
Kidd said he inserted his old teammate he calls "Twin'' not because of the fans' chants but because the "game was out of hand'' and he wanted to get his regulars some rest.
"I don't pay attention to what people say; I'm sorry,'' he said. "Hopefully they were happy.''
From the sound of it, they were.
Before the game, when Collins was asked if his Barclays appearance would invoke Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger who broke down baseball's color barrier, he largely dismissed the comparison.
The Nets will sign Collins to a second 10-day contract Wednesday.