When Jason Collins stepped onto the court on Feb. 23, 2014, as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, it was a historic event: He was the first openly gay player in the National Basketball Association, and this was his first time in uniform since he had come out. Among the thousands cheering him on in Los Angeles, in a game against the Lakers, were his uncle, Mark Collins, and Mark’s husband, Tony Murray. “Congratulations,” they said to Mr. Collins over drinks after the game. “We love you.”
They also paved the way for Jason to come out to his family by showing them that gay men were nothing to be afraid of. Some relatives had difficulty accepting that Mark Collins was gay — until they met Tony. “I think once we saw how Mark and Tony were, the love they had for each other, we knew Mark was going to be fine,” Mr. Collins, who played for six teams in a 13-year N.B.A. career, said in a phone interview. Mr. Murray died on March 16 at a hospital in Valley Stream, N.Y. He was 60. The cause was Covid-19, Mark Collins said.
Stan Albeck, the former San Antonio, Cleveland, New Jersey and Chicago head coach during a long NBA career, died Thursday in hospice care at son John’s home. He was 89. John Albeck told the San Antonio Express-News his father entered hospice care Thursday after having a stroke March 14. He also had a stroke in 2001 while an assistant coach with Toronto.
“Coach Albeck wasn’t just important to the Spurs, he was what I call a lifer,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “People like myself don’t come close to loving the game as he did, and his whole family did. They participated in so many ways and followed him so many places.