US & Canada

Jason Collins becomes the first openly gay NBA player

Jason Collins in a Boston Celtics shirt, playing against the Brooklyn Nets on 15 November 2012 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Boston Celtics player in 2012, Mr Collins will rejoin the team he has played seven of his 12 seasons with

Veteran basketball player Jason Collins has become the first openly gay athlete to play in a competitive game for a major US professional sports league.

Earlier on Sunday, he signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

Collins entered the court at the start of the second quarter in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 35-year-old centre, who has played for five other NBA teams, was given a warm reception by the crowd.

He only revealed he was gay in a Sports Illustrated magazine interview last April.

At the time he was not signed to a team.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Obama, probably the world's most famous basketball fan, invited Mr Collins to his state dinner for France's President Hollande in February

Needing another big man, the Nets turned to the seven-foot Collins, who helped them reach two NBA Finals in the early 2000s.

"The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,'' general manager Billy King said in a statement.

"We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.''

The news comes as Michael Sam, another US sportsman who recently revealed he is gay, prepares to take part in American Football's NFL Scouting Combine - a showcase of college players looking to be signed by NFL teams.

Last May, Los Angeles Galaxy footballer Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a US professional league.

However Major League Soccer is not regarded as one of the four main sports competitions in the US.

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