I remember Jason Collins demonstrating for me how to employ a defensive “swim move” on a post player. It occurred in the locker room a few minutes after Stanford beat Georgia in a preseason tournament in Puerto Rico in 2000. I asked Collins how he defended a certain player, so he positioned me, a sports writer covering the Cardinal for the San Francisco Chronicle, as if I were a player trying to post up. Defending me from behind, he effectively knocked my arms away to prevent me from receiving an imaginary entry pass.
I remember Jason Collins showing me his mangled right wrist, which he dislocated early in his second season at Stanford. A knee injury had limited him to one game as a freshman in 1997-1998, and he played only seven games as a sophomore. He never could straighten his wrist correctly and there was concern it would affect his shot.
I remember watching Jason Collins score 33 points against Washington in February of 2001. He made 13 of 14 shots, and, more important, he hit 4 of 5 three-point attempts. The game basically guaranteed that he would be a first-round draft choice, because any NBA team would want a 7-footer who could hit three-pointers while dominating the boards. (Evidently the wrist injury had healed sufficiently.)
I remember talking to Jason Collins’ mother while watching Stanford practice. In those days, all of coach Mike Montgomery’s practices were open. The media, parents and anyone off the street could walk into Maples Pavilion, sit in the stands and watch an entire practice. His mother was an impressive woman, and her discussions involving Colin Powell were, uh, thought-provoking.
I remember talking to Jason Collins about my discussions with his mother, and I remember him just smiling.
I remember telephone discussions with Jason Collins after the 2000-2001 season, hoping I would be the first media person he’d contact when he decided whether he would enter the NBA draft that spring. Not until that May did he decide to enter the NBA draft, and even then, he did not hire an agent, allowing him to return to Stanford if he did not think he’d be drafted in the first round. Even though he would graduate that spring, Collins had two years of college eligibility left because he had missed virtually two full seasons because of injuries.
Ultimately, Collins decided to turn pro, becoming the first Stanford player to turn pro before his college eligibility had expired. He was the No. 18 overall pick. Had Montgomery known a few weeks earlier that Collins would turn pro, the available scholarship might have gone to Emeka Okafor, who was interested in coming to Stanford. But Montgomery kept the scholarship for Collins in case he decided to return. By the time Collins opted for the pros, Okafor had committed to Connecticut.
I remember being unable to distinguish between Jarron and Jason for much of the four years I covered them for the Chronicle.
I remember the Collins brothers saying they weren’t sure whether they were identical or fraternal twins, but they sure seemed identical to me. By the end of their fourth year I could tell them apart – Jason was slightly wider by then.
In 2030, I will remember that on April 29, 2013, Jason Collins revealed he was gay. What will make the memory worthwhile is that, in 2030, a 20-year-old male athletes may wonder why such a fuss was made about Jason Collins’ revelation.