|Come on, son.|
Michael Jordan and his Charlotte Bobcats should sign Jason Collins.
In case you missed it, Collins came out of the closet this spring, making him the first openly gay active pro athlete in one of the USA's major team sports. But since his coming out, Collins contract expired and he's been a free agent, drawing little interest around the league. There was a brief flirtation with the Detroit Pistons, but it petered out and they instead signed Josh Harrellson, 10 years his junior. So Collins is still very much available.
So why should Jordan do it? THE primary reason is a simple one: signing Collins would completely change the conversation of Jordan's legacy as an owner.
Jason Collins is no Jackie Robinson, several other former pro athletes have come out after they retired and said they were gay while they played but kept it under wraps, whereas there was no way for a black player before Robinson to hide in plain sight in Major League Baseball, but Jordan could help Collins blaze a trail of own, and maybe open the door for other individuals to come forward as well.
I said this wasn't about basketball, but we are dealing with the NBA so let's go ahead and work out the basketball ramifications. Collins certainly isn't going to be much of a difference maker on the court, he's never been that level of player in the NBA and he's been an end of the bench guy for a couple seasons now. But he could add some value. The Bobcats front court currently consists of recent free agent additions Al Jefferson and Anthony Tolliver, incoming rookie Cody Zeller, the disappointing 2011 lottery pick Bismack Biyombo, the mostly ineffective Josh McRoberts and journeyman center Brendan Haywood. Having a "pro's pro" like Collins in the locker room can help the coaches bring the group together, and since Collins is known as a bruiser, going up against him day after day in practice might impart some much needed toughness to Al Jefferson, not currently known for his defense or leadership. Granted, the role Collins normally plays on a team is currently being filled by Haywood, so he doesn't really fit. He would be the 7th big, and that's at least one too many on a team that really needs to add wing scoring, especially if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to struggle with his shooting.
|Collins battling his future teammates.|
In my lifetime Michael Jordan has been the best non-mascot, non-cartoon pitchman (although, there was this), and this is an easy sell to the public. All he has to do is sell the social significance, not the basketball. Standing up for a brave man who dared to break down this wall and all that jazz. The people will lap it up. There may be cries of opportunism, but how much publicity can you really gin up off of a 34-year old 12th man? He's not selling jerseys or driving ticket sales. This is for the good of America, people, and so on. The NBA needs Collins on some roster, so Stern/Silver will owe him a favor (perhaps a Wiggins-sized favor?). Collins may not love being perceived as getting an affirmative action roster spot, but I'm pretty sure his agent could come up with 1.2 million reasons why that's preferable to having no spot at all. Plus, if he wanted to fashion himself as a gay rights activist, the platform he'd have as an active player is considerably more than useful than as a retiree, and North Carolina is currently a hotbed of political activity on the gay rights front, so he might be able to effect positive change as a local spokesperson.
The reasons to do this abound. The only reason not to do it is basketball. And thinking about it, Michael Jordan is known to make bad basketball decisions, so maybe he is already considering it.
|Aight, I'ma think about it.|