Jason Collins, the NBA professional basketball player who played for both the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards last season, has come out publicly as a gay man. For the first time ever, a professional male athlete in one of the four major American team sports (NBA, NFL, NHL & MLB) has publicly come out as gay. Collins is featured on the cover and in the pages of this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. Click below to learn more about Collins‘s coming out and rejoice with me, please. By his coming out, Jason Collins has paved the way for other professional male athletes to come out as gay.
It’s the biggest move of his career and it’s off the court. Jason Collins, who played with the NBA’s Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards this season, has disclosed that he is gay. This makes him the first active openly gay male athlete in the four major American pro team sports. The center, who said he is now a free agent “literally and figuratively,” made the disclosure in a column appearing in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. “Jason Collins has forever changed the face of sports,” said the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group fighting for gay rights. It likened the announcement to Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in major league baseball in the modern era. “At a time when millions are reflecting on the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, Jason Collins is a hero for our own times,” the group said. Collins is a 7-foot center who played with six NBA teams over the past 12 seasons. Along with the Wizards and Celtics, they are the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies. He has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 713 career games and he has had a great deal of playoff experience with the Nets mostly and the Hawks. NBA Commissioner David Stern said the 34-year-old veteran is widely respected in the league. “We are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue,” he said in a statement. Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said the team is “extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly.” “He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation,” Grunfeld said. Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers called Collins “a pro’s pro” and one of his favorite players he ever coached. “If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept,” Rivers said. “It will be society who has to learn tolerance.” Atlanta Hawks’ Managing Partner/NBA Governor Bruce Levenson and Hawks’ President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ferry said they respect Collins and his message and support players’ individual rights. “Jason represented everything that we look for as a member of the Atlanta Hawks and we are proud he wore our jersey,” they said … Active players posted their approval on Twitter. The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant said: “Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others.” Steve Nash, also a Laker, said: “The time has come. Maximum respect.” Two Wizards’ players, Garrett Temple and Bradley Beal, said in tweets they were “proud” of Collins. “Much respect to my teammate,” Temple said. “Great teammate, mentor and better person,” said Beal. Michael Strahan, the former New York Giants defensive end, praised Collins for “having the courage to stand up and out for who he is. I support, respect and salute you!!”
You can read a portion of Collins‘s Sports Illustrated article HERE. I have to say, as amazingly fantastic as this news is … it’s about time. You just knew that this day was coming. It was only a matter of when and who. I’m not a sports fan so I can’t speak to Jason Collins‘s prowess as a basketball player … but I am very impressed that he found the strength to come out. I know without a shadow of a doubt that there are other gay players in the four major American team sports and I am very much looking forward to the announcement of the next athlete to come out … and then the next … and then the next … until coming out as gay is such a boring headline that no one cares anymore. This is a great day for gay visibility … and for professional sports here in the US. Woot!