Jason Collins made history on Sunday by signing with the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the NBA’s first openly gay player. And by Tuesday, just two days later, his jersey ranked the league’s top-seller online.
According to reports, Collins’ No. 98 Brooklyn Nets uniform is currently the highest-selling jersey on NBA.com, defeating basketball favorites like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Blake Griffin. “Jason Collins’ return to the league represents a historic moment, and fans continue to show their support by (buying) Jason’s jersey,” said Vicky Picca, the league’s senior vice president.
Exact sales figures have yet to be released, but The Wall Street Journal reported “hundreds of inquiries” were received at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue and on NBAStore.com.
The highly-publicized player, who didn’t belong to a team when he came out the closet last spring, signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn team and chose his number as a tribute to Matthew Shepard, a gay college student from Wyoming who was murdered in a hate crime in 1998.
Shepard’s family recently spoke to ESPN and said “Matt would’ve loved Jason.”
“I think he’d sit down and Jason would probably start running away from him because Matt wouldn’t stop talking to him,” said father Dennis Shepard.
Shepard allowed himself a laugh over the memory of his precocious son, then he was back to discussing the beauty of watching Jason Collins fouling and screening the Lakers as often as he could.
“Matt would see this as a great day,” his father said.
Collins played his first game a Net jersey last Sunday in a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. Tonight, the team came up short in a 80-124 defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers.
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