Collins finds a welcoming home in Nets locker room

first_imgBrooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce, left, and center Jason Collins cheer from the bench after the team scored during the first half of an NBA basketball against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Jason Collins has a week and a half to prove himself to the Brooklyn Nets.He signed a 10-day contract, one of the toughest deals in sports because it gives non-superstars almost no time to impress their coaches and teammates in hopes of sticking around.With this group, Collins did that long ago: The Nets locker room is filled with former teammates who have already accepted the league’s first openly gay player and his on-court habits, which are the ones that matter most to them.“Guys already know what to know to expect from me. It’s like, OK, he’s not going to magically have a 40-inch vertical (leap) and shoot 3s,” Collins said.That made it the ideal place for his historic return to the NBA.Perhaps, as numerous players insisted after Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated article last April, athletes were ready to accept a gay teammate. Maybe Collins would have been welcomed anywhere he signed.But maybe not. As the bullying scandal involving the Miami Dolphins proved, the locker room can be a place where abusive language can divide a team and threaten to derail a season, to say nothing of the fallout for the players themselves.The loudest voices with the Nets, however, belong to the team leaders, and they’ve already made up their mind about Collins.Old teammate Jason Kidd coaches the team. Collins played with Joe Johnson in Atlanta and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston, and they are now the respected veterans in Brooklyn.“I know those guys over there in Brooklyn, KG and those guys, played with him in Boston, and they’re going to welcome him with open arms,” said Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins, who also played with Pierce and Garnett with the Celtics. “It’s a veteran locker room, so they’re very mature, and they’re going to accept him.”Added Clippers and former Celtics coach Doc Rivers: “It’s a perfect place with Kevin and Paul. He was with us in Boston, so they know what he can do defensively.”Collins played 6 ½ years with the Nets, where some in the organization still call him “Twin,” his nickname when he played for them and reached the NBA Finals with Kidd in 2003 and 2003. One of his first calls when he came out last April was to Kidd.“You look at all the connections that Jason has,” Kidd said, naming not only Jason Collins’ former teammates but also some who played with his twin brother, Jarron, “and also being that he played with the Nets before, so I think this is a great opportunity for him.”Brooklyn proudly boasts of its diversity — Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier playing for the Dodgers — and the Nets’ locker room makeup fits. Right next to Pierce and Garnett toward one corner of their room at Barclays Center are Russian Andrei Kirilenko and Mirza Teletovic from Bosnia.They are owned by a Russian, Mikhail Prokhorov, who clearly doesn’t share his country’s anti-gay policies. Prokhorov isn’t afraid to take chances, firing Avery Johnson last December after he’d been Eastern Conference coach of the month in November, and later hiring Kidd when he had no previous coaching experience.Signing Collins is another risk, but only because he’s 35 with limited offensive skills and hadn’t played in the NBA since finishing last season with Washington.As for his sexuality? Well, there was a time when only whites were trusted to coach and more than a third of the league’s coaching jobs are now held by blacks, so the NBA has seen the benefit of embracing groups who previously felt shut out.“Twenty years ago or 30 years ago, I wouldn’t be standing here, probably,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who is black. “If you’re going to exclude one group of people, you’re going to exclude more than one group. I think it’s great for the league.”The next gay athlete may not have the benefits that Collins enjoys. Perhaps Michael Sam, the Missouri football star who is expected in May to become the NFL’s first openly gay player, will end up with a team that isn’t quite ready for him — or maybe he doesn’t find a team at all.Collins had already spent 12 years in the league by the time the world knew he was gay. He’s a well-regarded Stanford graduate who just attended the State of the Union as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama and has made friends around the league — and particularly inside the Nets’ organization.“They have good group of guys here and again, either my brother or myself has been teammates with a lot of guys in this locker room,” Collins said, “so they’re very familiar with what you’re going to get from the Collins twins.”___AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City and freelance writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this report.___Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoneylast_img read more

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This Bomber team soars to Mount Sentinel Junior Girl’s title

first_imgThe L.V. Rogers Bombers junior girls volleyball team strung together an undefeated streak to capture the Mount Sentinel Junior Girls Invitational tournament on Saturday afternoon.The Bombers needed a come-from-behind effort over J.L Crowe in the tournament final to clinch the title.In a spirited opening game of the match, the LVR team fell behind early and despite a strong comeback late in the game fell short 25-23 in the best-of-three. A back and forth second game saw LVR setter Hanna Quinn serve for the game which went to the Bombers 27-25. “The girls seemed to struggle with focus in this match,” said Bombers coach Jennifer Kidd.“After beating J.L. Crowe twice in two sets in the round robin, I think they were a little over confident. Then when they were down by quite a few points they became nervous and started to scramble. They needed to be aggressive and trust each other.”The Bombers found the groove that helped the team win the round robin of the tournament in the third game. The LVR juniors came out with a 15-8 win when middle Bailey Stefani put away the match with a solid hit. “What an amazing finish to the weekend,” said Kidd.“The girls came together and worked as a team, not an easy task when you’re down a few points. They listened to us and to each other, they trusted each other and dug in to fight for each and every point to finish the match.”[Assistant coach] Megan [Rushton] and I are so proud of the determination shown by each of the girls.”The Junior Bombers will now travel to Nakusp on Thursday for a play day.last_img read more

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SAA, Virgin Australia deal opens new stops

first_img10 February 2014 South African Airways (SAA) and Virgin Australia, one of Australia’s largest domestic airlines, have entered into a new codeshare agreement, the airline said in a statement on Thursday. SAA flies daily between Johannesburg and Perth with the new partnership offering SAA customers expanded access across Australia to domestic destinations such as Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide, as of 11 February. SAA acting commercial general manager Kendy Phohleli said: “Through the codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia, our valued customers will gain new travel choices to primary markets across Australia via Virgin’s extensive network and hubs in Perth and Melbourne, providing seamless travel, and earning of miles through the Voyager frequent flyer programme. “In addition customers travelling to Africa from Australia using Virgin Australia services will have access to the most comprehensive network on the African continent.” Virgin Australia has been an interline partner of SAA since July 2010 where the two airlines had a commercial agreement to handle those customers travelling on both airlines. SAA is now expanding this relationship into a codeshare agreement. “We are looking forward to strengthening our partnership with Virgin Australia through this new codeshare agreement,” Phohleli said. SAinfo reporter and SAAlast_img read more

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15 days agoKoeman explains role in plans to buy Wycombe Wanderers

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Koeman explains role in plans to buy Wycombe Wanderersby Paul Vegas15 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveHolland coach Ronald Koeman has spoken of his role in plans to buy League One side Wycombe Wanderers.Reports said the trio of Dennis Bergkamp, Henrik Larsson and Dirk Kuyt put in a bid for the club earlier this year but the Adams Park board opted to go in another direction.Koeman told reporters: “I don’t know how close that is.“I’m in the background, let me put it like that. I’m an advisor. If they want it I’m available for advice but I’m not the one who is going to invest, I’m not the one to decide how the process will continue.“They have the dream to buy a club and they’re working on that but I’m not directly involved and I didn’t want that.“I’ve been asked if they want some advice and if they think I can provide them with good advice I’m available. But I’m not really the one to talk about that a lot.” last_img read more

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5 Bold Predictions For The South Region Of The NCAA Tournament

first_imgFive bold predictions for the South Region. Miami Plug DanceTwitter/@MiamiHurricanesThe 2016 NCAA Tournament gets underway tonight with the first pair of play-in games. Play in the South Region begins at 9:10 p.m. ET on tru TV, with two 11-seeds, Wichita State and Vanderbilt, facing off for the right to play Vanderbilt. The South Region is very intriguing. It contains the No. 1 overall seed in the field, along with a number of teams capable of busting the bracket. We’ll find out which team emerges on March 26 at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville.We’re here to help you make your picks in the South, but we’re not going with just chalk. Without further ado, let’s look at our five bold predictions for the South Region. Get Started: Wichita State “Shocks” The Competition >>>Pages: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6last_img read more

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Federal judge orders changes to election rules for PEI First Nation

first_imgCHARLOTTETOWN — A Federal Court judge has ruled that regulations blocking off-reserve members of a P.E.I. First Nation from taking part in band elections are contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.The Abegweit First Nation has three reserves on the Island — in Morell, Scotchford and Rocky Point — but about half its members live off-reserve.The band’s election regulations prevented anyone who had not lived on-reserve for the six months prior to an election from voting for chief and band councillors, or from running for those positions.Justice Paul Favel ruled that the equality rights of off-reserve members were violated and ordered the rules to be changed, with the exception of how they apply to choosing a chief.Candidates for chief must have lived on-reserve for the six months prior to an election, and agree to reside on-reserve during their elected term.A band council election set for April 17 was put on hold while the judicial review was heard. A new date has not been set.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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