Jason Collins: First Active Gay NBA Player Retires

Jason Collins retires as first active gay nba player

This week Jason Collins, the first openly gay basketball player in history, retired at the age of 36. With homosexuality still being a taboo subject within all four of the major North American pro sports,  Collins announcement in 2013 that he was gay was truly a watershed moment.

The California native initially struggled to find a new team after he revealed his true sexual orientation, despite having previous successful stints at various NBA teams, but eventually joined the Brooklyn Nets in February 2014. The Brooklyn Nets, who are 1/66 to win the NBA championships according to sports betting website Bet365, turned out to be the final team that Collins would play for in a career that saw him compete for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards amongst numerous others.

Collins, who was featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” this year, announced the end of his 12-year NBA career in an interview with Sports Illustrated Magazine, the same publication in which he formally announced his sexuality in April 2013. The 36-year-old Collins , who was not selected for the Brooklyn Net’s squad this season, confessed that “my body was telling me that it was time.”

Although naturally saddened by his ailing body’s role in his decision, Collins seemed content with the prospect of retirement. He revealed, in the interviewer for Sports Illustrated, that “as we speak, I’m watching a college basketball game, but it’s time for me to truly become just a fan and watch from the sidelines.”

Collins began his basketball career playing for Stanford University, him being an All-American in the 2000-2001 season. At the 2001 NBA draft, he was drafted as the 18th overall pick by the Huston Rockets. In 2002, Collins signed with the New Jersey Nets in what would turn out to be his longest stint at any NBA team. The 2002-2003 NBA season saw Collins play a central role in helping the New Jersey Nets get back into the NBA finals. It was perhaps this performance, along with an impressive average of 4.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game over his time with the team, that led Collins to be offered a $25 million-dollar contract extension with the New Jersey Nets for an additional 5 years.

After his contract ended with the New Jersey Nets in 2008, and with his prime career years behind him, Collins never again settled at a franchise for a prolonged period of time. Whilst still posting excellent showings in individual games, such as his 6 rebounds performance for the Minnesota Timberwolves against the Phoenix Suns, he failed to preform consistently throughout the remainder of his career.

Indeed, Collin’s announcement concerning his sexuality came in the twilight of his career, the 7ft centre being a free-agent at this time. Whilst it was a shame that Collin’s did not reveal his homosexuality during his prime years, his decision still proved to be significant. When Collin’s signed with the Brooklyn Nets, he became the first gay player to ever be signed to a NBA franchise and the support, and acceptance, of his teammates proved to be somewhat of a turning point. For example, it is hard to imagine National Football Player Micheal Sams honesty regarding his sexuality would have occurred without Collin’s having led the way.

Overall, whilst Collins will always be most remembered for his contribution to the LGBT community within pro sports, he was also an exceptional player regardless of his sexual orientation and, hopefully, his legacy will remember this also.

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