The Jason Collins dividend
Wednesday night in Portland, Jason Collins played a total of seven minutes and scored zero points, after logging just 11 minutes Sunday night against the Lakers, as his ongoing stint with the Nets continues to be, in basketball terms, about as minor an event as expected.
But the Nets' decision to bring Collins on board has nevertheless offered nothing but upside.
There was absolutely a basketball argument for adding Collins to a team thin on the frontcourt and in need of defensive players within the rotation. Ultimately, though, a team that often plays small and already features Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee on its bench won't use Collins for more than a few minutes per game.
In terms of the big, groundbreaking news—that the Nets signed the first openly gay player in N.B.A. history—it's been hard to find reaction that wasn't positive.
No N.B.A. player, let alone one in the Brooklyn locker room, has spoken out against the move. In a sports-media landscape in which there is such a strong incentive toward manufactured controversy and contrarianism, not one writer or television personality has decided to become that guy to stand in front of the Jason Collins progress train. (Even ESPN's Chris Broussard, who earned widespread derision for his televised response to Collins' thoughtful first-person declaration in Sports Illustrated last spring, was smart enough this time around to keep his mouth shut.)
This is not to take away from the power of the moment, or the neat political significance of the fact that it was the home team of Park Slope that sign Collins.
But the lesson, really, is that the debate had already played out. The Nets, for the low, low price of a ten-day contract, are barrier-breakers, and get a little defensive help into the bargain.
If many people had dreamed of such an occasion, few could have predicted how seamlessly it would come to pass.
Collins' minutes, or lack of them, are a non-issue. His impact has already been felt.
CORRECTION: Collins' minutes total in the Portland game has been changed from the original version of this article, which said that he didn't play at all.