Early Monday morning I received a flurry of text messages about Jason Collins announcing he is gay.
This was big news. Collins’ announcement to Sports Illustrated made him the first active NBA player to come out, and the first athlete in a major US sport to come out as gay.
After all the speculation that an NFL player, or players, coming out, it was somewhat of a surprise that an NBA player stepped out of the closet first.
As I followed the story online, my interest quickly turned into anxiety as I thought about the inevitable negative public reactions, ignorance, and denouncements.
Imagine my surprise when the initial responses and tweets weren’t negative, but overwhelmingly positive, and it was a small sign of things to come. A tidal wave of support came from current NBA players, legends of the game, college teammates, and even some NBA Teams sent out official tweets in support of Collins.
We’re not talking just a few messages here and there, or a supportive tweet from a couple role players; the messages came from superstars and THE faces of the league – Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Rudy Gay, and Manu Ginobili – just to name a few.
In all – 50+ current and former NBA players have publicly supported Jason
- 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. -NBA Commissioner David Stern
- Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU –Kobe Bryant
- Jason Collins showed a lot of courage today and I respect him for taking a stand and choosing to live in his truth. #nbafamily –Dwyane Wade
- Jason Collins, playing against him, seems like a great guy. Never got the chance to know him. But if he’s happy, that’s cool. Nobody has any right to judge. He’s his own man. Makes his own decisions. As NBA players, it’s like a big group of guys, kind of like a brotherhood. I know I support him. As long as he’s happy, it’s cool. –Kevin Durant
- All my respect & support to JasonCollins. Thanks to his courage perhaps someday an athlete’s sexual preference will be irrelevant. Congrats. –Manu Ginobili
- None of us should go around wondering about what other people think we should be. I think it’s very strong of (Collins). I’ve got the utmost respect for Jason. If you can play the game, then that’s all that matters at the end of the day. –LeBron James
- Happy for @jasoncollins34 in his decision. A great teammate and friend. Thanks for helping me through my rookie season!! #classact #courage –Kevin Love
- The time has come. Maximum respect. RT @Baron_Davis: I am so proud of my bro @jasoncollins34 for being real. … http://tmi.me/TGSBh –Steve Nash
- Happy for my former teammate Jason Colllins. A true American. “home of the free because of the brave” –Rudy Gay
- I’ve got gay friends, gay people who work for me. It’s not like anything out of the norm. You should be free to act and do what you want to do, as long as it’s not violent. I came here in a Cookie monster shirt because I wanted to. I was going to wear the pants and the hat, too, but I thought you guys would judge me. And I don’t watch Mitch to judge me. But I should have worn it. You should be free to do and act how you want to act. –Metta World Peace
- Character is found in those who lead. I am so proud of my friend, Jason Collins, for showing all of us what leadership looks like. #way2go –Shaquille O’Neal
We won’t even go into the comments from President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Andy Roddick, Chelsea Clinton, Michael Strahan, Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, and NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo among many others.
When it came down to those who mattered the most – the NBA players passed with flying colors. They called Collins their brother, made references to the NBA as one big family (#NBAFamily), thanked him for being such a good mentor, a professional, and teammate. The responses gave me hope (and endeared me to the NBA even more).
All these well wishes coming from professional athletes – ones that are admired for their strength, athleticism, competitiveness, and masculinity – attributes not associated with gay males, were what’s really important here.
Their overwhelming support from Collins’ peers helps to provide a safe atmosphere; lessening the fear of repercussions and creating space for other closeted athletes to come out.
Even Jason Collins couldn’t have expected this much positive feedback. Not only that, he must be just as surprised by how few negative comments there were from his NBA brethren – it says a lot about how far we’ve come as a society.
So, bravo, Jason Collins… and bravo, NBA.
Scroll down to read more reactions from NBA players:
- #Wizards Statement “We are extremely proud of Jason & support his decision to live his life proudly and openly.” http://www.nba.com/wizards/wizards-statement-jason-collins-announcement … –Washington Wizards
- Doc Rivers: “I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro.” Read Doc’s full statement: http://on.nba.com/15UPgaR –Boston Celtics
- “We have great respect for Jason and his message today.” Our full statement on former Hawk Jason Collins: http://on.nba.com/ZZhF7n #NBAFamily –Atlanta Hawks
- ‘He exemplifies everything we look for in players’ – @bkdefend on Jason Collins. More: http://on.nba.com/15VcD4i –Brooklyn Nets
- @jasoncollins34 was a complete professional and a great teammate. I support him in his decision and wish him all the best in the future. –Al Horford
- Proud of @jasoncollins34 for expressing his feelings! Great teammate, mentor and better person !! #liveyourlife –Bradley Beal
- I am proud of my brother @jasoncollins34. Great teammate and mentor! –John Wall
- @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. –Trevor Ariza
- Proud to support my teammate and friend @jasoncollins34. Stay true to you! –Emeka Okafor
- @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
- I appretiate you for coming out. I am sure it takes a lot of courage to do so. I am proud of you. Great teammate! Take care @jasoncollins34 –Jan Vesely
- Much respect to my teammate @jasoncollins34 for being #real –Garrett Temple
- It doesn’t really change what kind of person he is. He’s a good guy. And that’s just who he is. –Kirk Hinrich
- Wow this is amazing all smiles.. So so happy Jason Collins came out & announce he was openly GAY ALL SUPPORT OVER HERE #ATHLETEALLY #LGBT –Kenneth Faried
- Jason’s sexuality doesn’t change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate. @jasoncollins34 –Jason Kidd
- 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
- Takes a brave man. I commend him for him having the courage to do it. I have no problem with it. He was my friend before and he will still be my friend. –Kenyon Martin
- Respect to @jasoncollins34. great teammate and true professional when we played together. –Kyle Lowry
- ”I don’t think he’ll be received any differently. There shouldn’t be any reason you would view him differently.” – J.J. Redick
- I am so proud of my bro @jasoncollins34 for being real. #FTheHaters http://bit.ly/12J9el5 –Baron Davis
- It’s amazing to see such courage from @jasoncollins34 in today’s announcement. Myself and the #NBAFamily supports you Jason! –Pau Gasol
- “I’m just totally in support. Jason is a great teammate. I think if there’s anybody that can carry that mantra and the character to stand behind it and carry the flag for other players, I think it’s Jason. He was a great teammate and I wish him the best. I’m going to support him 100 percent and will encourage other guys to support him.” –Jerry Stackhouse
- Very proud of and happy for one of the coolest and most down to earth guys I know @jasoncollins34. #Fwhatpplthink –Damien Wilkins
- Great character from a great family! That’s all that matters! @jasoncollins34 #respect –Earl Watson
- I have to respect @jasoncollins34 . Hope people will respect his decision and respect for the courage it took.#support#respect# –Nicolas Batum
- “It’s probably going to open the door to many more. There’s so many professional athletes, there’s so many human begins, that are scared to expose it because of the exposure of sports and what people might think about it. But I think what he did was a great thing, just to kind of open the door for other athletes who probably now are going to have the courage to come out.” –Paul Pierce
- @jasoncollins34 I hope one day we won’t have to say how proud we are because it will be normal. Thanks of you stepping up today. Good luck! –Luis Scola
- Looked upto @JasonCollins34 growin up in LA, been the best role model from grade school to the NBA. Blessed to know him & his fam #NBAFamily –Robin Lopez
- You have to respect Jason Collins for being himself and honest today. Took a lot of courage. Respect to him.. #nba –Tracy McGrady
- “I’m proud of Jason. I’m proud that he feels comfortable enough in his own skin to be who he is and come out. Now I’m pretty sure he feels free and can live a little bit. The world is different now. This is what the world is today. With the media, and all the different outlets of social media, I’m proud that he had the courage to do it.” –Chauncey Billups
- Jason Collins has announced that he is gay. I know Jason and his family well and I support him 100%. –Magic Johnson
- @nba @Jason Collins, the NBA family has always been about acceptance and equality for all. Stand tall you have more supporters than haters. Isiah Thomas
- I think he is immensely brave. I think it’s a shame in this day and age he has to be immensely brave, but he is.’ – Former NBA player John Amaechi, who came out as gay in 2007.
- 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 –Bruce Bowen
- Played NBA +college w/ @Jasoncollins34 -tremendous human being and PHENOMENAL teammate, leader, friend.Look forward 2his continued success! –Mark Madsen
- It is VERY IMPORTANT to be yourself – Jason Collins @jasoncollins34 is being himself – good for him –Bernard King
- Jason Collins’ courageous act will impact many lives and help to create more tolerance in sports. Proud to have him representing the NBA. –Steve Kerr
- Still going to whoop you on the golf course. – Nick Van Exel
- I’m so proud of him. If there was one guy to break down this barrier, he’s the guy… –Casey Jacobsen, former NBA player and Stanford teammate.
- It takes #courage 2 make a statement like #JasonCollins. Played with him in #Atlanta & wish him the best. –Joe Smith
- Jason Collins comes out & speaks his truth. #NBA –Jay Williams
- S/O to @jasoncollins34 for showing the strength to come out and be who he wants to be & the courage to stand up and be proud. #realtalk2 –Stacey King
Am I missing any comments? Email me at stuartL@interbasket.net