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Signing Collins is another risk, but only because he’s 35 with limited offensive skills and hadn’t played in the NBA since finishing last season with Washington.

As for his sexuality? Well, there was a time when only whites were trusted to coach and more than a third of the league’s coaching jobs are now held by blacks, so the NBA has seen the benefit of embracing groups who previously felt shut out.

“Twenty years ago or 30 years ago, I wouldn’t be standing here, probably,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who is black. “If you’re going to exclude one group of people, you’re going to exclude more than one group. I think it’s great for the league.”

The next gay athlete may not have the benefits that Collins enjoys. Perhaps Michael Sam, the Missouri football star who is expected in May to become the NFL’s first openly gay player, will end up with a team that isn’t quite ready for him - or maybe he doesn’t find a team at all.

Collins had already spent 12 years in the league by the time the world knew he was gay. He’s a well-regarded Stanford graduate who just attended the State of the Union as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama and has made friends around the league - and particularly inside the Nets’ organization.

“They have good group of guys here and again, either my brother or myself has been teammates with a lot of guys in this locker room,” Collins said, “so they’re very familiar with what you’re going to get from the Collins twins.”


AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City and freelance writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this report.


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