The Brooklyn Nets new signing, Jason Collins recorded two rebounds and a steal in his debut against the Los Angeles Lakers last night but it seems that his value could also be measured off the court.
The first performance by an openly gay NBA player drew 1.3 million viewers on the YES network according to Richard Sandomir, a columnist for the New York Times.
Sandomir tweeted earlier today: "Jason Collins's first game with Bklyn Nets rates a 1.3 on YES Network, well above season avg. of 0.8."
The bump in viewers could be related to the fact that the Nets were playing in what could be deemed as a marquee game against the Lakers, a historically influential franchise that has come on hard times.
More likely however is the public's general interest in the first appearance of an openly gay NBA player, an important moment in the sport's history.
Collins signing came just weeks after NFL draft hopeful Michael Sam announced that he was gay and it comes in the middle of the NFL scouting combine, where ultimately Sam's draft position could be determined.
New NBA commissioner, Adam Silver praised the importance of the event during an interview with the Bleacher Report.
“While it shouldn’t be a big deal—and I understand Billy King saying, in essence, it’s just a basketball decision—it is a big deal,”
It is not yet known how big a role Collins will play for the Nets this season. His 10 day contract runs until Wednesday, March 5th.