Jason Collins wore the No. 46 jersey in his season debut Sunday with the Brooklyn Nets. He will eventually wear No. 98, his preferred jersey number.
But as far as the folks in the NBA are concerned, he has the No. 1 jersey.
Just two days after he signed with the Nets and became the league’s first openly gay player, Collins’ No. 98 jersey was the top seller on NBAStore.com. A league spokesperson told the Associated Press it is selling well again Wednesday.
And he hasn’t even worn that number in a game yet. It wasn’t available Sunday for the Nets game against the Lakers, during which Collins had no points and two rebounds in 11 minutes. He is expected to wear it for the first time with Brooklyn on Wednesday night in Portland.
Plus, Collins only signed a 10-day contract with the Nets. Of course, he could re-sign -- or his stint with the team could be over in a week.
But that probably doesn’t matter much to many of the people buying the jersey. Collins has said he wears No. 98 as a tribute to Matthew Shepard, who was killed in a gay hate crime in 1998.
Chances are, the jersey and its number will continue to hold great significance to a lot of folks long after Collins’ time in Brooklyn comes to an end.