Jason Collins, the first openly gay player to play in the National Basketball Association, got support on Thursday from one of the most accomplished athletes in the game's history: Five-time NBA champion Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
Collins revealed his sexuality after last year's regular season, making him the first openly gay athlete in any of the United States' four major professional sports leagues. He was not signed for the NBA's 2013-14 season, however, until the Brooklyn Nets offered him a 10-day contract earlier this week.
"That was great," Johnson said on CNBC's "Power Lunch." "It was great for the Brooklyn Nets, great for Jason, because he just wanted to play basketball."
Johnson, a three-time Most Valuable Player and 12-time All-Star, called Collins "smart" and noted that he had attended Stanford University. He characterized him as a "big body" on the court who can help win games by rebounding and screening setups.
Though Collins, 35, played only 11 minutes and went scoreless in his Net debut Monday, he does appear to be boosting business. His "Collins 98" jersey is the league's most popular one, even outselling shirts of the NBA's global superstars.
"I think that was a great move for the NBA, and for Jason and for gays," Johnson said.