Jason Collins not only became the NBA's first active openly gay player Sunday afternoon by signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, but he also appeared in his first game against the Los Angeles Lakers later that same day, ESPN reports.
"I don't have time to really think about history right now," he told ESPN shortly after inking his short-term deal. "The pressure is playing in an NBA game tonight, and last time I played in an NBA game was last April," Collins said. "So I think that's enough pressure right there."
The 35-year-old center entered with 10:28 to go in the second quarter and received a round of applause from the Staples Center crowd.
Every NBA win is important, especially amid a dogfight for playoff position in the Western Conference. So Memphis' 102-96 victory at the FedExForum on Friday night was satisfying.
But, add in the detail that the win was at the expense of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers and a satisfying win gets an upgrade to sweet.
The Grizzlies-Clippers rivalry is punctuated by prickliness. Friday night's confrontation came with L.A. ranked among the Western Conference's top four teams and Memphis in a scruff with Phoenix, Golden State and Dallas to finish among the top eight teams that will battle for conference supremacy in the playoffs.
Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular among today's pop culture. Many young adults use their bodies as canvasses reflecting their freedom of expression. To naysayers, visible body art is a professional no-no, with some making exceptions for artists, musicians or athletes.
With that backdrop, the Memphis Grizzlies tonight (Feb. 21st) are moving to do something that seems to be a first in NBA history. The first 5,000 fans to enter the FedExForum for the game against the Los Angeles Clippers will receive a clear sticker with "GRIZZLIES" inscribed on it. The sticker is to go on the necks of fans in honor of new fan-favoriteJames Johnson.
Acquired from the D-League on Dec. 16, Johnson quickly staked his claim to fan support with his athleticism and the spark he delivers off the bench. He is averaging 8.2 points per game and leads the league in three-point blocks.
The post All-Star game run of the NBA season has started and the Memphis Grizzlies made a step in the right direction pulling out a win against the New York Knicks on Tuesday (Feb. 18th) at FedExForum.
A lift from Mike Conley and a rain of three-pointers from Mike Miller kept the Grizzlies afloat, withstanding New York's second-half surge en route to a 98-93 victory.
Conley had missed the previous seven games with a sprained right ankle. Finishing with 22 points, he was 6-of-15 from the field and scored a season high 10-of-12 from the free throw line. He dropped nine points during the last five minutes of play.
Willie Davenport was born in central Alabama and was a college track standout in Baton Rouge, La. He qualified for four consecutive U.S. Olympic track teams as a hurdler, winning the gold medal at 110 meters in Mexico City in 1968 and a bronze eight years later in Montreal, and, in 1982, was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. Davenport would later become a very successful track coach.
All of which makes it extraordinary that, arguably, Davenport's greatest Olympic legacy may have been in the Winter Olympic sport of bobsled. After his hurdling career ended, Davenport accepted an invitation to train with the U.S. national team in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the 1980 Winter Games would be staged. He wound up, at 36 years of age, making the Olympic bobsled team as a push athlete and managed a respectable 12th-place finish in Lake Placid.
Amid the "Miracle on Ice" frenzy at that Olympics, bobsled was not even a blip on the American sports radar. However, Davenport's Lake Placid run proved to be a historic milestone, impacting both the sport of bobsled and the overall fabric of the Winter Games: Davenport and his sled-mate Jeff Gadley, a college decathlete, became the first black men ever to compete at the Winter Olympics.
Earlier this week, Michael Sam came out publicly with the news that he is gay. When asked about his parents' reaction to the news during an interview with ESPN, Sam said, "I told my mom and dad last week, and they just pretty much said, 'We knew and we love you and support you,'" he said.
"I'm their baby boy. I'm the first to go to college. I'm the first to graduate college. Something like this is just another milestone."
Sam told his Missouri teammates back in August, but he didn't disclose his sexual orientation to his parents until last week. On Tuesday (Feb. 11th) , the New York Times reported that Michael Sam Sr. is struggling with his son's announcement. Michael Sam Sr. told the New York Times that he received the news last Tuesday after his son sent him a text that said: "Dad, I'm gay."
On Sunday night, Michael Sam made history. The college football standout publicly acknowledged that he is gay, making him the first American athlete in a major professional team sport to announce he is gay at the very beginning of his career. Sam's announcement is already one of the biggest sports stories ever, but the timing of his announcement could make it one of the biggest cultural stories ever as well.
Some of you may be scratching your heads right now trying to figure out why this story matters in an age in which the president of the United States is on the record supporting same-sex marriage, and NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay last year. But Sam's story will likely have a far more significant impact than either of these milestones. Here's why:
President Obama certainly has a measure of influence, particularly among black audiences. When he first ran for president, data showed an "Obama effect" among black test-takers whose scores markedly improved when he won. But influencing test scores in a condensed time frame is very different from having a long-term impact on community behavior. For instance, so far there is no data to suggest that the image of the president's nuclear family, comprised of two married parents raising their children and two dogs together, has significantly altered the landscape within the black community, in which single parenthood has become the norm. That is simply to say that altering social behavior in a meaningful way is a tall order for any one man, but it may be particularly tough for a president.