NEW YORK—Several weeks after making history by signing the first publicly gay athlete in a major North American sports league, members of the Brooklyn Nets stressed to reporters Friday that they view new teammate Jason Collins only as a really terrible basketball player. “We don’t look at him as the first openly gay player in the NBA—he’s just like any other guy on the team who comes in during garbage time and contributes nothing on either side of the ball,” said Nets forward Paul Pierce, insisting that on the court, the 35-year-old 7-foot center is an unexceptional, totally ineffective big man and nothing more. “His sexuality isn’t a big deal to us. Understandably the media and fans will concentrate on that, but in our eyes, he’s just another benchwarmer who’ll grab a rebound every once in a while and have no actual impact whatsoever on this team.” Pierce went on to say that the signing of Collins was not about publicity or marketing, but rather reflects the franchise’s strategy of building a team around aging players long past their prime.