The top selling jersey in the NBA this week belongs to openly-gay player Jason Collins.
DENVER, COLORADO. (FEBRUARY 27, 2014)(NBC) - On Saturday veteran basketball center Jason Collins was unsigned. Now his "Collins 98" jersey is the NBA's best-selling shirt, outperforming the league's global superstars. Collins, 35, had been without a team after publicly coming out as gay in April 2013. Last weekend, he signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets and made history on Sunday as the first openly gay athlete to play in North America's major leagues.
On Thursday Collins met with reporters before the Nets game with the Denver Nuggets. Collins was asked about his sudden fame.
"It's an awesome feeling to have but I think it's also a tribute to Mathew Shepardand also to the year 1998 when the Trevor Project was also founded.The number 98 has a lot of significance to me and obviously to a lot of other people."
Collins, who wore jersey number 98 for Boston and Washington in 2012 and 2013, chose that number in tribute to Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyomingstudent who was brutally murdered in October 1998. The Tevor Project is a crisis phone line for gay youth started in 1998.
"It's great as a society that we're moving, at least in the sports world, to a place where all of us can be our true, authentic selves and still contribute to our teams and hopefully it will encourage other parts of the country and other parts of society to also move forward."
Collins first wore his number 98 jersey on Wednesday in a game against the Trail Blazers in Portland, Oregon. On Thursday night he played in front of Matthew Shepard's parents and presented them with a '98 jersey