BY ARNIE STAPLETON
AP SPORTS WRITER
DENVER -- Jason Collins had plenty of gifts for Matthew Shepard's parents: a basket, a blowout, an autographed No. 98 jersey that he wears in honor of their son.
They also shared some laughs.
Collins played the final eight minutes of the Brooklyn Nets' 112-89 romp over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, and although his three points and four fouls weren't much to look at in the boxscore, rarely has the 35-year-old center been this proud of a performance.
"I got them a bucket," the center said.
After his cameo in Brooklyn's recovery from a 44-point loss against the Trail Blazers 24 hours earlier, Collins, the first openly gay athlete in America's four major sports, met with the parents of the slain Wyoming college student who was tortured and murdered in 1998 because he was gay.
Collins, who signed a 10-day contract with the Nets on Sunday, said the chance to meet Dennis and Judy Shepard was "one of those cool treats in life."
He gave them a signed black and white jersey — although not a game-worn one.
"I did not want to give them a sweaty jersey, so this is a backup," he said with a laugh.