Jason Collins made big news this past NBA offseason when he came out and announced he was gay. There was plenty of discussion about it with opinions from both sides, but the majority of people were supportive of Collins. As the NBA season is ready to tip off, Collins is not on a team. This was the NBA’s and in particular commissioner David Stern’s nightmare situation. A player comes out and admits he is gay and now he is on the outside looking in at the league.
Collins is older, at the end of his career, and everything that comes with that, but he has been renowned as a great locker room presence, a leader, and a character guy. Doc Rivers lauded how much Collins brought to the Celtics when he was there. There is definitely a place in the NBA for a player like Collins.
The thought process among NBA circles is teams are not worried about Collins in the locker room (at least not publicly), but they are worried about the attention he will draw from the media. The concern is he will receive so much attention, he will be a distraction. There is probably some truth to that and if the attention could be solely directed towards Collins, it would be a problem that can be handled. Collins is an extremely mature, intelligent man who could handle that attention and get rid of it as he needed.
The concern is with the rest of the team. Potentially having 19, 20, and 21 year old players being asked questions about this by media members who are looking for a story. One slip up or perhaps even a true opinion uttered and suddenly that player is in a position where they are the story of the day and everyone is judging them for how they feel. That is a problem. There will be people asking, poking, and prodding and parsing every word players say in hopes of catching them in a story.
So while Collins can and should be in the league based on his own merits, it is a legitimate concern of how things would unfold with him in the locker room. The question would be about how maturely his teammates could handle the situation, but the real question is how maturely the media could handle the situation. History suggests they cannot and would not handle it well, but will point the finger at the NBA and its players.