Not only is the 35-year-old big man averaging only 0.5 points and 0.7 rebounds per game since becoming the first openly gay player to suit up on an NBA court, but there haven't been any outward signs of hostility.
"One player, one knucklehead from another team," Collins said during an interview with Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News when he was asked about any negativity he's faced. "He's a knucklehead. So I just let it go. Again, that goes back to controlling what you can control. That's how I conduct myself—just being professional."
The center wouldn't give any more specifics than that, largely because he doesn't want the comment or the person who made it to receive much attention. Plus, as Bondy points out, the reaction to his trailblazing path has been almost exclusively positive:
The support throughout the NBA arena - from his standing ovation in Los Angeles to the crowd chanting his name in Brooklyn - has been indicative of not only an accepting and enthusiastic environment, save for a "knucklehead." Still a fringe rotation player whose main job is delivering fouls, Collins' #98 jersey became the top seller on NBA.com, even as the media attention has died down to the point that he'll leave a practice or locker room without an interview request.
"You can't control what other people are going to do," Collins espoused when the conversation shifted to an upcoming road trip that will head right through the Bible Belt and feature games against the Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans.
Maybe there will be more knuckleheads. Maybe there won't be any.
Regardless, Collins seems prepared to handle whatever is thrown in his direction, just as he's done since making his season debut against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 23.
The focus, as it has for nearly a month since he was first signed and put out on the court, will rest on doing everything possible to help Brooklyn continue advancing up the Eastern Conference standings.
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