Jason Collins

NBA Center Jason Collins: 'I'm Gay'


Jason Collins, a center who played for the Washington Wizards last season and is now a free agent, today became the first openly gay male player in a major pro sport, SI reports:

Jason_collinsI'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.

I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand...

...Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

Collins adds:

No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.

Much more at the link below...

Why NBA center Jason Collins is coming out now [sports illustrated]

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  1. Amazing day for our community.


    Posted by: Jorge | Apr 29, 2013 2:07:43 PM

  2. @Rick: "..he was not the IDEAL player to be the first to come out."

    Depends on what your ideal is. I don't think Collins had to bank on publicity from his coming out to play a couple more seasons in the league, and apparently he felt it would be soul-crushing to have to stay in the closet in order to hang on to the end of a roster for a couple more years. Instead of being cynical, you ought to admire him for not being willing to prostitute his self-respect for a couple more years of salary. I personally feel like he could still be a 8-10 mpg player, at least for another season or two.

    And you never know exactly how NBA teams will respond. It's possible that some teams in some markets won't take him on. But it's an important barometer for the league, giving teams a chance to put their money where their mouth is about promoting equality. You'll never know for sure until teams are given the chance to act, and either do or don't. In that sense, I think Collins IS the ideal player.

    Posted by: Big Pick | Apr 29, 2013 2:13:42 PM

  3. I think Rick knows a whole lot more about staying in the closet, cowardice, and self-loathing than basketball. That's probably what has made him so cynical and insufferable.

    Collins has managed to stay employed for 12 years in a league where the average career lasts about 3-4 years. The fact that teams kept signing him to contracts, and the praise he got from a coach like Doc Rivers BEFORE coming out suggests that he didn't have to do the cost-benefit analysis about coming out. And if he DID, it sure looks like he's risking more than he's gaining. Which is a lot more than you can say for a bitter queen like Rick.

    Posted by: Kiwi Derrick | Apr 29, 2013 2:21:34 PM

  4. Congratulations, Jason, on having the guts to stand up for your right to live your life as you are. This is the 21st century. Hatred and bigotry based on ignorance have no place in an educated civilized society.

    Posted by: Ninong | Apr 29, 2013 2:24:27 PM

  5. As the in-house TR cynic, let's just say I woke on the wrong side of the bed today, so it's great that he's out, but I'm worried this isn't going to end well. Without a contract, if he gets cut and it's career-over, how many of you are going to be celebrating? If you are gay and haven't suffered a string of political disappointments, then you're probably just very young.

    On the optimistic side, I also think there might be more to the rumored outing of four pro athletes this year at about the same time (though obviously not exactly at the same time). The rumor that this has been in the works for some time might be true, and this could be the first chapter. However, I still suspect the details of this rumor are probably wrong.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 29, 2013 2:32:59 PM

  6. This whole conversation could be moot unless he gets picked up (34 is old in the NBA). Let's now hope there's a GM out there willing to bring him on.

    Posted by: Craig | Apr 29, 2013 2:42:10 PM

  7. @anon: "...if he gets cut and it's career-over, how many of you are going to be celebrating?"

    Whether you're celebrating or not, you still have to respect Collins for being man enough to say he's not willing to play in the closet anymore, and for having the nutsack to make NBA teams put their money where their mouth is. I think there are some guys who don't really follow the NBA who don't understand how valuable a player like Collins can be, particularly to an elite team who needs a player who'll take on the unglamorous aspects of the game so that the highflyers can soar and dunk. Collins is that player, and always has been. I still think there are probably half a dozen teams who'll take him on strictly on the merits of basketball ability. His status as a positive role model will just be gravy.

    Posted by: Big Pick | Apr 29, 2013 2:43:47 PM

  8. NYKnicks are a perfect example of a team that would take on Collins next year, and who probably should've tried to acquire him last year. If the NYKnicks will take on 40y.o.-ish frontcourt players like Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, and Kenyon Martin, and a 40-year-old point guard like Jason Kidd, and a 35-year-old first-year NBA player like Prigioni, they would certainly consider taking on a relatively young player like Collins. Plus, Collins is EXACTLY the kind of player the NYKs need to back up Tyson Chandler. He's not going to demand starter minutes, he'll take on the role player duties in support of players like Carmelo Anthony, he'll come prepared every night, won't get in trouble off the court. He'd be a great presence on a team like the NYKs.

    Same as a backup for Brooks Lopez in Brooklyn, for Joakim Noah in Chicago, and for Dwight Howard in LA (if he stays out there), all of which are large urban cities with gay fan bases.

    Bottom line: there are PLENTY of opportunities for a solid career role-player like Collins.

    Posted by: I Ain't Worried | Apr 29, 2013 2:55:25 PM

  9. As usual, Rick shoots off his mouth without regard for the facts.

    From the Sports Illustrated article, a sidebar account with sports agent Arn Tellem, written in first person:

    "....When we finally spoke, Jason revealed his private secret. He said he felt compelled to tell me. He said that, after much soul searching, he realized that it was better for him to have the truth come out. He asked for my support. I asked, "Why now? Why go public?" Jason said he could no longer remain silent. He said he wanted to live honestly and openly and inspire others to do the same. He asked how I thought teams and the public might react.

    I told him that the public would respect his candor. My only fear was that the announcement might influence his impending free agency. I wondered whether teams might be unwilling to risk potential problems with narrow-minded players. This, despite his reputation as a quintessential team player. "Jason," I said, "could you possibly delay this until after you sign a new contract and have job security?"

    His response was immediate and unshakable. "My basketball career is important," he said, "but the time has come to live my life. As supportive as my family has been, I feel terribly alone and isolated." He also didn't want to risk being outed. "I want to tell the world myself," he said. "I have faith that other players will judge me by my past performance and what I bring to a team, and not by this announcement alone."

    So yeah, Collins did the calculus about how it would affect his career, and opted for some peace of mind and self-respect at the risk of a little more financial security.

    Collins is giving NBA teams a chance to do the right thing and make a big statement about acceptance. Let's see which team is the smart team and takes him up on the opportunity.

    Posted by: Man of 1000 Names | Apr 29, 2013 3:34:54 PM

  10. So it's "great for gays" if a team hires him because he's GAY---and "terrible for gays" if no-one hires him because his game it's not there anymore?

    Seems like a dbl-standard.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Apr 29, 2013 3:48:18 PM

  11. I have a feeling this will do a world of good for young gay African Americans, especially as they deal with their home and neighborhood environments.

    Posted by: Topol | Apr 29, 2013 4:36:03 PM

  12. I KNEW IT! I knew an NBA player would be the first of the four major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL) to come out.

    Posted by: Billy Crytical | Apr 29, 2013 5:04:18 PM

  13. "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." (1968) Andy Warhol

    Posted by: GB | Apr 29, 2013 6:20:58 PM

  14. Yes! Thank you Jason! You are such an intelligent, handsome and brave soul!

    Yet, how could you possibly choose not to be brave, if bravery basically means speaking and living the truth? Who in their right mind would not want to do the same, eventually?

    Jason, please know that from today forward you are loved not only by your family, friends and loyal fans, but you are loved by the world, getting to know you!

    Oh... and only take the messages of love in!!!

    Posted by: El | Apr 29, 2013 7:05:34 PM

  15. He's a great man.

    Posted by: Mel Smith | Apr 29, 2013 8:20:58 PM

  16. 100% support for Jason.

    Posted by: Josh | Apr 29, 2013 9:18:45 PM

  17. So proud of you! Now it's time for me to become a first-time Wizards season ticket holder. IF they keep you.

    It'll suck for DC if some other team gets you, but I hope you're playing somewhere next year.

    Posted by: Keith | Apr 29, 2013 11:34:10 PM

  18. He's an inspiration to this generation. I remember in the 80's when pro baseball player Glenn Burke came out. It must be tough

    Posted by: milan | Apr 30, 2013 1:18:49 AM

  19. So naturally, the cynics aren't pleased. He's a) too old, b) doing it for publicity and c) doing it to extend his stay in the league and d) at the end of his career.

    So what would the perfect out athlete have to be like, in order to please these cynics and thus fairly represent the diverse LBGT community? Oh, he would have to be at the "peak" of his career, so perhaps amid celebrations after winning a championship, someone should scream out "I'm gay"?

    I have a feeling that if he had done this at the start of his career, the cynics wouldn't still be pleased- they'd accuse him of a) wanting special treatment b) wanting publicity or c) letting his sexual preference cast a shadow on his profession and d) using his sexual preference as shield when his career declines.

    In other words, will the cynics ever be pleased? No, but they'll be hard pressed to find a player who's been so consistent with his game for 12 straight seasons, a rare feat that, his foul record notwithstanding, has earned him a place in history as well as the respect and admiration of his peers. He first let his game do the talking on court, and now he's doing the talking by himself. The cynics will beg to differ, but I bet that his voice will be heard louder and clearer than their estimations. Though it's a naive thing to call him the "first openly gay, active athlete" (Martina beat him by 30 years), everything he's said so far has made a difference to a lot of people already and for that we should be thrilled to count him as one of our team.

    Posted by: stranded | Apr 30, 2013 1:41:38 AM

  20. Jason can't change being gay, but now he can change being single. Congratulations on finally becoming a most eligible bachelor. All the best, on and off the court.

    Posted by: Rich | Apr 30, 2013 3:49:06 AM

  21. Nike is offering the first openly gay male player a big fat contract to come out...it's all about the money as usual....

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Apr 30, 2013 9:21:22 AM

  22. He is a center. He is black. And he is gay. And he is still alive...

    Posted by: Lucius | Apr 30, 2013 10:33:06 AM

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