Jason Collins – the first openly gay current athlete in North American team sports – inspired a road crowd to applaud a benchwarmer. He inspired a college football player and a college basketball player to come out. And he inspired countless young athletes to be comfortable in their own skin and accepting of others.
That’s why Collins became a member of the Time 100, a list of the world’s most-influential people.
Chelsea Clinton wrote the short essay on Collins:
I met Jason Collins when we were freshmen at Stanford. Not surprisingly, the first thing I noticed was his height. The second thing I noticed was his kindness off the court — and his fierceness on it. Kindness to his friends, his family and fans. Fierceness in his drive to win. Jason has always been focused on others, on what’s right for those he loves, and on helping those whose jersey is the same as his.
Jason’s kindness and fierceness alike derive from that word too often bandied about and too rarely true: integrity. Jason has always maintained he’s first a basketball player. He is. But he’s also a leader and an inspiration.
Collins was the only basketball player on the list, making him – in Time’s judgment – the most influential person in the NBA. And I’d agree. His news transcended sports in ways the happenings of the league’s top players don’t.
Though Collins was the only NBA player to make the 100, Dwyane Wade also appeared as the writer of the Serena Williams essay:
I first met Serena over a decade ago in Miami when I joined the Heat. Since then, I’ve watched her grow and dominate in her sport, overcoming adversity to win title after title. There is no doubt that she has made an incredible impact on the world of tennis, but it’s her determination to never give up that has always resonated with me.
Jamal Murray‘s performance since signing a max contract extension? Uneven.
But this play during the Nuggets’ win over the Thunder yesterday? Brilliant.
Caught picking up his dribble and seemingly well-defended, Murray flipped the ball off the backboard then finished his own alley-oop.
That’s obviously a flashy move, but it’s also an effective one more players should use. The backboard can be an effective weapon for passing, especially for a player to himself, when he knows exactly where he’s putting the ball and can get a step ahead of the defense.
How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?
After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.
Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.
But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.
Popovich, via ESPN:
“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.
And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.
Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.
Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.
Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.
Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.
But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.