It's not as if the NBA is a stranger to gay tunes. Fans across the league go nuts when arenas blare "Y.M.C.A." by the Village People. They contort themselves into the title letters, oblivious to the song's place in the pantheon of gay anthems.
On Sunday night at MTV's Video Music Awards, out gay NBA center Jason Collins will introduce yet another gay anthem at an NBA arena when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform their big, earnest summer single "Same Love" at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
Collins disclosed his identity as a gay man on Apr. 29 in an article in Sports Illustrated two weeks after he concluded the season with the Washington Wizards. The 12-year NBA veteran has had a busy summer in Los Angeles working out in preparation for the upcoming season and as an ambassador for the gay community at various public events.
For years, many anticipated that the first openly gay athlete in a professional team sport would have significant crossover cultural appeal. Back in February 2007, Mark Cuban predicted that the first out gay player would have a bevy of endorsement and marketing opportunities. Collins, a Nike athlete, has been tapped by the sportswear giant for their #BeTrue campaign targeting gays and lesbians. In June, he marched in Boston's Pride parade wearing a #BeTrue t-shirt two days after throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park to a nice reception.
Will Collins, who reportedly met with the Detroit Pistons a few weeks ago, receive a contract offer for the 2013-14 season? An informal survey of league executives at Las Vegas Summer League suggests that Collins, who remains a free agent, stands a good chance to be in uniform on opening night this fall as teams flesh out their rosters with 12th, 13th and 14th men in the weeks leading up to training camp.
"He's a September player," one front office exec said. "He's a positive locker room influence and still plays big. The league likes him."