Jason Collins, most recently of the Washington Wizards, has openly admitted that he is gay.
Through an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated Monday, Collins became the first male athlete in the history of (major) American sports to come out of the closet while still playing in that particular league:
I'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.
Collins goes on to admit that he doesn't know what type of reactions his announcement will garner from current NBA players. He refers to himself as a "pragmatist," someone who will hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
His plans for the worst will have to relegated to the backburner, though, as the support he has already received from his peers has been incredible.
Though he is an unrestricted free agent, the Wizards organization released a statement commending Collins for his decision to live "proudly and openly."
The NBA and David Stern released a statement of their own in conjunction with Collins' announcement, emphasizing how proud they were that he has elected to become a pioneer.
NBA Commissioner David Stern statement re: Washington Wizards center Jason Collins announcement today: (1/4)— NBA (@NBA) April 29, 2013
“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 (2/4)— NBA (@NBA) April 29, 2013
and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout (3/4)— NBA (@NBA) April 29, 2013
his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.” #NBAFamily (4/4)— NBA (@NBA) April 29, 2013
TNT's Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley talked to Anderson Cooper about the announcement, expressing their support and giving thoughts on players being openly gay in sports.
The Black Mamba's teammate, Steve Nash, along with former NBA star Baron Davis, offered nothing but the utmost of respect for Collins as well.
Pau Gasol joined his Hollywood-based comrades, admitting that he was amazed by such dauntlessness.
His endorsement means a great deal, as he has remained outspoken on issues pertaining to gay athletes.
Jason Collins has announced that he is gay. I know Jason and his family well and I support him 100%.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Jason can feel good in knowing that the NBA will support him.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Jason Collins showed a lot of courage today and I respect him for taking a stand and choosing to live in his truth. #nbafamily— Way of WADE (@DwyaneWade) April 29, 2013
Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves was another who embraced Jason's divulgence, crediting Collins with helping him make it through his rookie year.
Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant pledged his support to Collins as part of the NBA's "brotherhood."
Kevin Durant on Collins' announcement: "As NBA players, this is like a big group of guys, that’s like a brotherhood. I support him."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 29, 2013
Former college teammate and current Stanford assistant basketball coach Mark Madsen praised Collins for being a "tremendous human being" and teammate after the news broke.
Played NBA +college w/ @jasoncollins34 -tremendous human being and PHENOMENAL teammate, leader, friend.Look forward 2his continued success!— Mark Madsen (@madsen_mark) April 29, 2013
Rudy Gay, who played alongside Collins for a half season with the Memphis Grizzlies, called him a "true American."
Happy for my former teammate Jason Colllins. A true American. "home of the free because of the brave"— Rudy Gay (@rudygay22) April 29, 2013
Rookie Royce White of the Houston Rockets, who has spent most of the year enshrouded in controversy of his own, appreciated Collins' willingness to "face stigma" and exude courage.
Damien Wilkins of the Philadelphia 76ers joined the social media support party as well, congratulating Collins while also imploring him (and the rest of the Twitter sphere) to ignore what people think.
Wizards teammate Garrett Temple admired Collins' decision to be real.
Another teammate of his, rookie Bradley Beal, applauded Collins for living his life and being a great mentor.
A third member of the Wizards in Trevor Ariza referred to Collins as a "hell of a teammate."
@jasoncollins34 much respect to you.It takes a strong dude to be the first. Your a hell of a professional and a hell of a teammate.— trevorariza (@TrevorAriza) April 29, 2013
Yet another teammate, Martell Webster, took to Twitter to glorify Collins. It is his belief that the big man has helped make sports about "what it should be" about. He took the opportunity to call out Collins for his weak jumper as well.
@jasoncillins34 you have made sports what it should be and that's "OPEN" proud of you for being you. That's jump shot is still weak lol.— Martell Webster (@MartellWebster) April 29, 2013
Fresh off sweeping the Lakers, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker urged everyone to respect Collins for what he did and was hopeful that he would no longer have to fear being who he is.
Really hope people will RESPECT Jason Collins for his decision to come out. Just glad he can now relax and not be afraid to be who he is.— tony Parker (@tonyparker) April 29, 2013
Retired forward and current ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen appealed to his followers to do the exact same thing.
Really hope people will RESPECT Jason Collins for his decision to come out. Just glad he can now relax and not be afraid to be who he is.— Bruce Bowen (@Bowen12) April 29, 2013
Zaza Pachulia of the Atlanta Hawks took it a step further, calling Collins "one of the best teammates" he ever had.
Jason is one of the best teammates that I’ve ever had. He was a great presence in the locker room and an even better person. #NBAFamily— Zaza Pachulia (@zaza27) April 29, 2013
Former NBA guard Nick Van Exel also exalted Collins' decision. He made sure to let the league journeyman know that his sexual orientation wouldn't affect how badly he got beat on the golf course, though.
S/O to my boy @jasoncollins34 stay strong and be blessed. Still going to whoop you on the golf course. Lol— nick vanexel (@vanexel31) April 29, 2013
Earl Watson of the Utah Jazz made it known that the only thing of significance was Collins' character as a person; nothing else.
Toeing along the same line, Jason Kidd of the New York Knicks reiterates that the news doesn't change anything about the kind of person Collins is.
Jason's sexuality doesn't change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate. @jasoncollins34— Jason Kidd (@RealJasonKidd) April 29, 2013
And it shouldn't. He's still the same player, person and friend he has always been.
That Kidd and a slew of other NBA personalities share that sentiment only makes Collins' coming out more inspirational. And while it was prudent of Collins to prepare for the worst, it doesn't appear that there was a pressing need for him to do so.
He hoped for the best, and it seems that's what he got.