Phoenix Suns the kind of organization that would embrace Jason Collins

Posted by on May 5th, 3:11 pm

Many people like their sports as a self-containing entity that does not infringe upon any of the social issues of the day.

Yet sports aren’t played in a bubble, and throughout history they have intersected the critical social and political issues of the time.

The Brooklyn Dodgers will forever be remembered as the team for whom Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Today that’s seen as a landmark achievement; in 1947, it pissed off a heck of a lot of Dodgers fans.

Marc Stein surveyed 14 NBA teams and found six that believe Jason Collins will play in the NBA next season and eight that don’t. Of course, the consensus was that this had more to do with his playing ability than sexual orientation, yet signing Jason Collins now will be much different than signing him a week ago.

You’re inviting a sizable amount of media attention for the entire organization to deal with. Players will now be asked questions some may not be comfortable answering. You also will likely be upsetting some of your fan base, as sad as it is that that is the case in 2013.

At the same time, you will be the Brooklyn Dodgers of gay male athletes in professional sports. There will be increased sponsorship opportunities for your team potentially, and you will become the team the LGBT community rallies around as much as it can rally around a third-string center in his 13th year in the league. In some markets, such as Golden State, this could be tremendously positive. Other markets would face a much more difficult challenge making such a move.

I feel like the Suns would be completely open to signing Collins, or any future homosexual player, based on their history.

Three years ago during a critical home playoff game against the Spurs, the Suns wore “Los Suns” jerseys to oppose an immigration bill that many of their fans supported. A few years back when both were Suns, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley starred in a “Think Before You Speak” PSA to drive home the point that it’s not OK to insult somebody by calling them gay.

The organization also fully supported former president and CEO Rick Welts when he announced he was gay two years ago, making him the first such sports executive to come out of the closet. The organization handled it so well Welts may as well have been announcing that orange was his favorite color it was such a non-issue. The players, led by Nash and Hill at the time, felt the same way.

Overall I feel like Collins’ decision to come out reflects where we are in society with this issue. We aren’t all the way there, but Collins is paving the way for future athletes to come out before their 13th season in the league when they don’t have much to lose anymore.

There will be pockets of intolerance both in locker rooms and most certainly in fan bases, but ultimately I truly feel most teams and fan bases will embrace Collins and his plight.

In fact, decades down the line we will wonder why Collins coming out of the closet was such a big deal just like today it seems so strange that African-Americans once weren’t allowed to play Major League Baseball.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Majestic One // May 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    “I feel like Collins’ decision to come out reflects where we are in society with this issue.”

    More like reflects the power of the media to influence issues. Think we be having this conversation if there was no internet?

    Same thing happened in CA with immigration. In the 80′s CA was 82% anti-immigration.

  • 2 Joe // May 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Please don’t offer Collins a deal, lets face it he is a mediocre back up center at best. We already signed twins for something to keep fans interested, lets not sign someone just because they’re in the news. Lets go out and get players that can actually help the team instead of publicity stunts.

  • 3 bill.thomas // May 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I applaud Collins for taking this stance publicly when it could affect his job prospects. Anyway, he may be a creditable backup center, I haven’t studied his stats enough to know. I have been dismayed by some other comments on this site suggesting that we get rid of Haddadi and that O’neal won’t be back for reasons of his own. Both of these ideas don’t make much sense to me. In any case it is easy to sign creditable players to low value contracts before we get to more important players and bigger contracts, and it would be a good idea to do so in order not to have a skeletal roster. Collins may well be fine, even if not starter quality.

  • 4 foreveris2long // May 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    We have much bigger problems than worrying about some scrub backup center near the end of his career no matter what his sexual orientation is.

  • 5 Scott // May 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Of course the Suns could sign Jason Collins … they are BIG TIME twin collectors.

    If the Suns sign Jason, all they need to do at some point in the future is get Brook Lopez to pass through on deal … ;)

    (The Suns had twin brother Jarron Collins on the team a few years back.)

  • 6 Brandon // May 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Why would they sign him? He’s an awful basketball player. I don’t care about him coming out… I don’t care about what his sexual preference is, I respect him for coming out but let’s face it, he’ll only be signed to draw attention to the team that signs him.

    Like last year… the Suns were completely irrelevant and not talked about once until their 15 seconds of fame by acquiring the other Morris to reunite the twins for media attention only. It makes no sense.

  • 7 bill.thomas // May 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    I just had a GREAT idea !! Does Babby have a twin?? Or maybe there is a stunt double lurking somewhere out there. Let’s call Central Casting in the AM.

  • 8 hawki // May 6, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I hear the Wear twins from UCLA are petitioning the NBA to be allowed to be drafted as an “entity”.

  • 9 bill.thomas // May 6, 2013 at 12:40 am

    At this point I think I would draft Charlie Frankfurter and Reggie I Got Every Shot There IS as a team.

  • 10 bill.thomas // May 6, 2013 at 12:42 am

    I gotta eat a lot a really unhealthy foods, do a lotta really unhealthy livin’ for about 5 mos. and then can maybe pass as a stunt double for Brooklyn Babby.

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