Jason Collins is not the first gay player in professional sports, and you’re kidding yourself if you think he’s the only one in all of the NBA, NFL or MLB right now. Collins however is the first to come out while an active player (he played with the Celtics and Wizards last season, he is currently a free agent).
Coming out was a bold thing and as soon as he did a number of voices came out in strong support.
That started with his own twin brother (who Jason just came out to last year):
The Washington Wizards, who Collins ended last season with (after being traded to the team in the deal that sent Jordan Crawford to Boston), issued a statement.
“We are 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.”
Doc Rivers, who coached Collins in Boston, also issued a statement in support.
“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collin.” Rivers said. “He’s a pro’s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite “team” players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be its not up to you, it’s just me being me.”
Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he didn’t think this would be a huge impact in the locker room, via the twitter of Eric Koreen of the National Post in Canada.
“I don’t think he would be treated any differently. I think what is underestimated is the maturity of NBA players and how respectful guys are of others’ personal lives.”
A lot of NBA players and other figures took to twitter to voice their thoughts, including Kobe Bryant.
Former president Clinton released a longer statement as well.
“I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”
As we had already noted NBA Commissioner David Stern made a statement as well:
“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”
Not all the responses were positive, although most of the negativity has come from fans and commenters. Cedric The Entertainer tried to be funny but wasn’t. Then there was NFL wide receiver Mike Wallace, the former Steeler who just signed with the Dolphins in the offseason. He wrote:
All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH….
Well done Wallace, it’s not like there is a large gay community in Miami….
It didn’t take long before that was taken down and replaced with:
That said, the overwhelming response that I have seen is positive.