Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete in the big four U.S. sports leagues, had four of the five best-selling items on the National Basketball Association’s online store yesterday, the league said.
Besides Collins’s Brooklyn Nets home replica jersey, the top-selling items were his road replica jersey, women’s replica road jersey and men’s name and number T-shirt, the NBA said. The other top-five item was a LeBron James jersey.
Collins’s jersey also ranks No. 1 in sales on Fanatics.com and FansEdge.com since going on sale on the websites two days ago, Meier Raivich, a spokesman for the company, said in an e-mail last night.
Collins wore jersey No. 98 to commemorate Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in 1998 because he was gay, in a 124-80 loss for Brooklyn (26-29) at the Portland Trail Blazers (40-18) last night. Collins played seven minutes in the fourth quarter and his only shot was blocked by Wesley Matthews.
The 7-foot Collins made his debut on Feb. 23 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He had two rebounds and a steal in 10 minutes of play.
Collins wore No. 98 in 38 games for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards last season before telling Sports Illustrated in April that he is gay. The center was a free agent and hadn’t signed with another team before joining the Nets on a 10-day contract with 29 games remaining on their schedule.
The NBA doesn’t disclose specific sales figures. Collins merchandise will not be sold inside the Nets’ arena, Barclays Center, or at the team’s online store unless he’s signed for the entire season, spokesman Barry Baum said.