Lifting Weights

Jason Collins is the NBA's first openly gay player, which is good for him and the game and us. He did it in the same understated, graceful way that he's done everything else in his long career.
Share |

Originally published April 29, 2013.

Bruce Herman, the man who writes the text for more or less every trading card printed and sold by Topps, lives in Blacksburg, Va. with his wife, children, massive record collection (very heavy on pop-punk) and massive dossiers of quotes from and factoids about the various players he's paid to write about. For a while, I edited what he wrote when I worked at Topps; for a longer while, I wrote those cards myself—mostly basketball, some baseball, and the occasional card for Susan B. Anthony or an astronaut for one of Topps' historic sets—for him as an independent contractor.

As much as I enjoyed writing the cards I wrote—I almost got the words "a screaming comes across the sky" onto the back of a Renaldo Balkman card, and generally enjoyed the opportunity to spend what was either just enough or actually too much time reading up on random NBA players—I was never nearly as good at it as Bruce. I was never less than in awe of his work. He had long ago shed the Master Prosesmith vanity that led me to write too many/too much about, like, Speedy Claxton and then grump over the self-edits I needed to make to get my card-backs down to character count; he swapped my flopsweaty adjectives for something smoother and more economical and more reliably on-point. Where I might fuss over finding the right 200-character sentence for a Shaquille O'Neal card—Just one sentence to describe Shaq? Why must "Fu-Schnickens" contain so many letters!—Bruce just reached back into his dossier and pulled up a quote from Jason Collins. This would have been on Shaq's Topps card around the middle of the last decade. Playing against Shaq, Collins said, "feels like you're lifting weights." And then Bruce was on to the next card, after writing what was both the perfect card-back for Shaq and, in recent retrospect, also the perfect card for Jason Collins.

Collins, by that point, was not necessarily getting a Topps card of his own. He was a vital player for a pair of doomed New Jersey Nets NBA Finals teams in 2001 and '02, but not every player gets a Topps card, and there were always players whose promise or stats or reputation or even just knack for getting photographed doing interesting things elevated them over Collins. There are a great many pictures of Collins boxing out. There are some photos of him setting picks, or sweating gape-mouthed at the foul line. There is only so much demand for those cards, though, especially when the back of the card is full of Collins-esque stats. That what made Collins a valuable player on good teams—and what has kept him in the league as he has made his descent from that not terribly commanding peak—never had anything to do with measurable statistics doesn't mean that his basketball card can be printed without them. Every player gets quantified the same way, and the words that might explain where that quantification falls short or is unrepresentative are only expended on players about which kids or collectors or fans might want to read.

And so, in Collins' case, they mostly haven't been. Excepting some cards featuring swatches of his game-worn shorts and jerseys, Collins hasn't had a card of his own since Fleer made one for him in 2007-08. Anyway, after Collins came out as gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated co-written with Franz Lidz, his statistics seem to matter even less than ever, and the cardboard collectibles with pictures of his weary self on the front and a litany of his workmanlike numbers on the back are no longer the things about his 12-year career that seem likeliest to endure. At this point, it's mostly about the line that Bruce caught, the part about "lifting weights."

***

In his coming-out piece, Collins writes with eloquence and good humor on his identity and his decision to reveal it while he's still employed in the NBA. He is, if you hadn't noticed, still working in the NBA—the 34-year-old split last season between the Celtics and Wizards, and is a free agent. He has been an itinerant backup for the last half-decade, and may or may not have gotten a job next season as a seven-foot practice pylon, pick-setter and strategic foul-giver before he wrote what he wrote. Whether it will or won't help or hurt him get a job next season is a question that's less Embrace Debate fatuous than it initially seems—Collins' individual courage in becoming the first active-duty male professional athlete to come out is most meaningful, like most individual acts, in context.

There are executives and teams that would be more or less inclined to hire Collins because of who he is and his choice to own that identity in public, and that means something beyond reminding us that the owners of the Utah Jazz are jerks, or whatever. The response of Collins' NBA peers—broadly positive and accepting thus far, although someone is obviously going to say something stupid at some point, at which point we'll go through the ritualistic dismay-cycle that comes with that—matters, too. New York sports radio host Mike Francesa, a rancid veal breast wrapped in Today's Man microfiber blends and comically bulletproof self-regard, wrote the story off as a "dramatic attempt to sell a magazine, I guess," and that, finally, doesn't matter. Ditto for the airheaded disagree-with-the-lifestyle righteousness of ESPN's Chris Broussard, one of what will doubtless be many pious and hilariously un-Christlike Christians to huff in similar silly ways. It doesn't matter because Mike Francesa doesn't matter—doesn't matter to exactly the same huge extent to which Francesa is convinced he does matter—and because Chris Broussard doesn't matter, but it mostly doesn't matter because Collins' story isn't about some Diet Coke-braised radio meat's opinions or the dim prejudices of some scoop-faking mediocrity, so much as it's about work.

***

It is not just about that for Jason Collins, of course, or for the many other gay athletes who have had to wear the same burdensome mask he wore without ever getting the relief he seems to have found in shedding it. For him and for them and for many of us, straight and gay, this is personal—here's a person we have watched play for years stepping more fully and proudly into himself, and here too is our refracted, vicarious pride and happiness in seeing him do that. This is all good: good for him and good for the league and the game and those of us who care about both, and also good as a development in one of the precious few national conversations that seems to be progressing in more or less the direction and manner—if still not nearly at the pace—that it undoubtedly should.

But if his dignity is a big part of what makes Jason Collins so admirable at this moment, the way he has consistently found dignity in his very public labor is what makes it stick. Jason Collins has faced off with Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan and David Robinson in the NBA Finals and his generation's other NBA giants in games significant and insignificant, and he has not outscored or outplayed them in any of those games. Collins went into those games knowing that he would not, could not do that. He might foul them in a timely or intelligent way, or piss them off, or set good enough screens and play good enough defense to mitigate at least to some extent the inescapable physical fact that his opponents were bigger and stronger and better at basketball than him. His ability to do those things, his willingness and knack for the NBA's most rote and punishing work, has made him both professionally valuable and personally wealthy.

And if Collins' bravery today has made him an historically significant figure—and I'd argue that it has—it's worth remembering that his humble heroism is of a piece with his reliable and consistently unheroic life in basketball. Jason Collins earned both respect and a living by doing work, by pushing and fighting and fighting even when it was more or less futile, because that was his job as he understood it and because it was the way he could do it best. He won what he won by finding ways to make his humble individual utmost a component part of a collective effort towards a common goal, and so both buried and multiplied his labor's significance. He makes his living like that, by disappearing into his work and doing it, by doing invisible and important things that aren't easily or adequately captured on either side of a basketball card. It makes sense that we wouldn't have seen this coming, but it makes even more sense that, if Jason Collins were to make history, he'd do it just like this.


Share |

Comments

Written for consumers by a consumer, this fan site includes a fun and informative 3 Week Diet review, ebook FAQ, and PDF download guide that provides an insider's look at the program and answers frequently asked questions about Brian Flatt's unique and highly popular fat loss diet guide.get a copy

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.Retin A

Three are usually cheap Ralph Lauren available for sale each and every time you wish to buy. They're produced by the very best degree developers who will be distinguished for your polo dress creating. You'll find polo Ron Lauren inside exclusive array which include particular classes for men, women.Cambridge Dog Walking

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.anzac tours turkey

The worst part of it was that the software only worked intermittently and the data was not accurate. You obviously canot confront anyone about what you have discovered if the information is not right.topes de hule

Doesn't mean that his basketball card can be printed without them.joann fabrics coupons

The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought you have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.motorcycle parts

I have bookmarked your website because this site contains valuable information in it. I am really happy with articles quality and presentation. Thanks a lot for keeping great stuff. I am very much thankful for this site.LKW-Module

Get Rid Of Herpes: Sarah Wilcox Reveals Her All Natural, Herpes Home Remedy That Kills The Herpes Simplex Virus, Stops Outbreaks, And Heals Blisters, No Medication Required... Written for consumers by a consumer, this fan site includes a fun and informative Get Rid Of Herpes review, ebook FAQ, and PDF download guide that provides an insider's look at the program and answers frequently asked questions about Sarah Wilcox's unique and highly popular herpes treatment guide.fastest cure for genital herpes

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!satta king

Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing. Aluguel de carro em Orlando

Avtovleka AVTO-TOMAŽIČ; Smiljan Tomažič S.P za Vas opravlja hitre in kvalitetne storitve avtovleke.Avtovleka Maribor, Pomoč na cesti Tow

Three are usually cheap Ralph Lauren available for sale each and every time you wish to buy. They're produced by the very best degree developers who will be distinguished for your polo dress creating. You'll find polo Ron Lauren inside exclusive array which include particular classes for men, women.GTA V Hack Free Download

I am a new user of this site so here i saw multiple articles and posts posted by this site,I curious more interest in some of them hope you will give more information on this topics in your next articles. Glad to chat your blog, I seem to be forward to more reliable articles and I think we all wish to thank so many good articles, blog to share with us.LONDON ESCORTS

Writing with style and getting good compliments on the article is quite hard, to be honest.But you've done it so calmly and with so cool feeling and you've nailed the job. This article is possessed with style and I am giving good compliment. Best!crack the girl code download

That what made Collins a valuable player on good teams—and what has kept him in the league as he has made his descent from that not terribly commanding peak—never had anything to do with measurable statistics doesn't mean that his basketball card can be printed without them
finanziamento

Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing. towels for cheap

That what made Collins a valuable player on good teams—and what has kept him in the league as he has made his descent from that not terribly commanding peak—never had anything to do with measurable statistics doesn't mean that his basketball card can be printed without them.
Garden Tools

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.how do i make her crazy about me

I needed to make to get my card-backs down to character count; he swapped my flopsweaty adjectives for something smoother and more economical and more reliably on-point.
credito

I edited what he wrote when I worked at Topps; for a longer while, I wrote those cards myself—mostly basketball, some baseball, and the occasional card for Susan B. Anthony or an astronaut for one of Topps' historic sets—for him as an independent contractor.
rugs cleaning

Writing with style and getting good compliments on the article is quite hard, to be honest.But you've done it so calmly and with so cool feeling and you've nailed the job. This article is possessed with style and I am giving good compliment. Best!Rolf

the game and those of us who care about both, and also good as a development in one of the precious few national conversations that seems to be progressing in more or less the direction and manner—if still not nearly at the pace—that it undoubtedly should.
Ipad 2,3,4

If your looking for Online Illinois license plate sticker renewals then you have need to come to the right place.We offer the fastest Illinois license plate sticker renewals in the state. We are tied directly into the sate’s renewal database which allows us to process your request almost instantly.gobes

I needed to make to get my card-backs down to character count; he swapped my flopsweaty adjectives for something smoother and more economical and more reliably on-point.
wire wrapped bangles

Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here.quilted mattress protector

For a while, I edited what he wrote when I worked at Topps; for a longer while, I wrote those cards myself—mostly basketball, some baseball, and the occasional card for Susan B. Anthony or an astronaut for one of Topps' historic sets—for him as an independent contractor.
alquiler de furgonetas

Regular visits listed here are the easiest method to appreciate your energy, which is why why I am going to the website everyday, searching for new, interesting info. Many, thank you!Maleta turista

For a while, I edited what he wrote when I worked at Topps; for a longer while, I wrote those cards myself—mostly basketball, some baseball, and the occasional card for Susan B. Anthony or an astronaut for one of Topps' historic sets—for him as an independent contractor.
wedding makeup artist

Blue Paisley Fine Rugs is Toronto’s newest premier provider of luxurious high quality rugs offering the widest selection in size, colour and services. We believe that every fine rug tells a story and manifests a tradition; it is an investment for generations to come and selecting one should be a tailored fulfilling experience. Our family works closely with our clients and suppliers to ensure that every selection leads to satisfaction for decades.
toronto rug services

Great tips and very easy to understand. This will definitely be very useful for me when I get a chance to start my blog.crazy craft mod

This would have been on Shaq's Topps card around the middle of the last decade. Playing against Shaq, Collins said, "feels like you're lifting weights." And then Bruce was on to the next card, after writing what was both the perfect card-back for Shaq and, in recent retrospect, also the perfect card for Jason Collins.
Image Editing

The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought you have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.סקסולוגיה

It should be noted that whilst ordering papers for sale at paper writing service, you can get unkind attitude. In case you feel that the bureau is trying to cheat you, don't buy term paper from it. Phoenix Demolition Contractor

gymnastics summer camp dubai I am overwhelmed by your announce along such a charming point. Normally I stopover your blogs plus have updated around the info you embrace however today's blog would be the most perceptible. Well exhausted!

mostly basketball, some baseball, and the occasional card for Susan B. Anthony or an astronaut for one of Topps' historic sets—for him as an independent contractor.
horoscope 2016

mean that his basketball card can be printed without them. Every player gets quantified the same way, and the words that might explain where that quantification falls short or is unrepresentative are only expended on players about which kids or collectors or fans might want to read.
Bathroom remodeling tampa

This would have been on Shaq's Topps card around the middle of the last decade. Playing against Shaq, Collins said, "feels like you're lifting weights." And then Bruce was on to the next card, after writing what was both the perfect card-back for Shaq and, in recent retrospect, also the perfect card for Jason Collins.
Flooring wholesale online

Blue Paisley Fine Rugs is Toronto’s newest premier provider of luxurious high quality rugs offering the widest selection in size, colour and services. We believe that every fine rug tells a story and manifests a tradition; it is an investment for generations to come and selecting one should be a tailored fulfilling experience. Our family works closely with our clients and suppliers to ensure that every selection leads to satisfaction for decades.
toronto rug services

Playing against Shaq, Collins said, "feels like you're lifting weights." And then Bruce was on to the next card, after writing what was both the perfect card-back for Shaq and, in recent retrospect, also the perfect card for Jason Collins.
iphone 6 case

2014 has witnessed a great investment in the dermatology industry which is much more than the total investment done each year, during the past seven years. About $446 million as invested in skin products by the end of September 30, 2014. The great activity that has been done in the first three quarters of 2014 has placed the year as the strongest for dermatology investment.
business finance

That what made Collins a valuable player on good teams—and what has kept him in the league as he has made his descent from that not terribly commanding peak—never had anything to do with measurable statistics doesn't mean that his basketball card can be printed without them.
vape subscription box

that his basketball card can be printed without them. Every player gets quantified the same way, and the words that might explain where that quantification falls short or is unrepresentative are only expended on players about which kids or collectors or fans might want to read.
Cloud backup

I was never nearly as good at it as Bruce. I was never less than in awe of his work. He had long ago shed the Master Prosesmith vanity that led me to write too many/too much about, like
annonces

contain so many letters!—Bruce just reached back into his dossier and pulled up a quote from Jason Collins. This would have been on Shaq's Topps card around the middle of the last decade.
artworker

Prosesmith vanity that led me to write too many/too much about, like, Speedy Claxton and then grump over the self-edits I needed to make to get my card-backs down to character count;
Garment manufacturer in Nigeria

I was never nearly as good at it as Bruce. I was never less than in awe of his work. He had long ago shed the Master Prosesmith vanity that led me to write too many/too much about, like, Speedy Claxton and then grump over the self-edits I needed to make to get my card-backs down to character count;
Tomsk

Playing against Shaq, Collins said, "feels like you're lifting weights." And then Bruce was on to the next card, after writing what was both the perfect card-back for Shaq and, in recent retrospect, also the perfect card for Jason Collins.
ice prince mutumina lyrics

I found Hubwit as a transparent s ite, a social hub which is a conglomerate of Buyers and Sellers who are ready to offer online digital consultancy at decent cost.tapeworm medication

Playing against Shaq, Collins said, "feels like you're lifting weights." And then Bruce was on to the next card, after writing what was both the perfect card-back for Shaq and, in recent retrospect, also the perfect card for Jason Collins.
atlas gym clothing