Ex-NBA center recalls how he wanted to undress in front of Barack Obama


jason- collinsFormer NBA player Jason Collins recalled how in 2014, US President Barack Obama “predicted” him being signed by an NBA team.

“So, I got asked in January of 2014 to attend the State of the Union and sit as a guest in the first lady’s viewing box,” Collins recalled in an interview with WBUR’s Only A Game.

Collins was allowed to bring one guest. He chose his twin brother, Jarron, who had also played in the NBA for many years.

“And I’ve been to the White House before, but, you know, you take the tour, you’re not allowed to touch anything, really,” Collins said. “And I’ll never forget being in the Blue Room, which sits directly in line with the Washington Monument, and sitting down in a chair with my brother, having a glass of wine and just looking out, like, ‘Wow, this is where we are right now.’ ”

Collins was going through a difficult period back then – he announced that he was gay in April of 2013. And by January of 2014, he was still without a job. Some predicted that no NBA team would sign an openly gay player who had never been a star and was, frankly, getting old.

Meanwhile, Collins was in line, along with other guests, for an official meet and greet with Barack Obama.

Jason Collins waited in line, and soon enough, it was his turn.

“We shake hands and then do the picture,” he explains. “And then I turned back to the president, and he says, ‘You know, just remember, after’ — and this is how much he knows about — he knows basketball. He said, ‘Just remember, after the trade deadline, that’s when a lot of free agents get picked up.’ ”

The NBA trade deadline was a little more than three weeks away. Collins had been working out — a lot. He says he was in great shape, and he wanted the President to know it.

“I said, ‘Yes, Mr. President. I’ll be ready, don’t you worry.’ And I said to him, ‘Like, look, I will take off my shirt right now and show you my six-pack.’ But the First Lady was, like, five feet away, and also, obviously, the Secret Service guards were all right there. So, I said, ‘I don’t think it’d be a good idea for me to take my shirt off and show you my six-pack right now.’ And then he looked at me and he sorta nodded and says, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea. You should keep your shirt on.’ ”

Jason Collins kept his shirt on. And sure enough, three days after the trade deadline, he was signed to a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

Collins played 22 games for the Nets that season (2013-2014), retiring afterwards.

Collins played 12 seasons in the NBA, appearing in 713 games, starting in 476. He holds career averages of 3.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg in 20.8 mpg.

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