Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the major four professional sports leagues in North America, retired from basketball on Wednesday, he made his announcement in a note posted on SI.com and ThePlayersTribune.com. Collins played in the NBA for 13 years. The center last played in April for the Brooklyn Nets after spending eight years playing for the franchise.
Collins, 35, officially will make his announcement later today at the Barclays Center, citing Jason Kidd’s return to Brooklyn for Wednesday night’s game as a major reason why he wanted to do it today, according to SI.com.
“On Wednesday at the Barclays Center, I plan to announce my retirement as an NBA player. The day will be especially meaningful for me because the Nets will be playing the Bucks, who are coached by Jason Kidd, my former teammate and my coach in Brooklyn. It was Jason who cheered my decision to come out by posting on Twitter: “Jason’s sexuality doesn’t change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate.””
Collins originally came out in an article published by Sports Illustrated 18 months ago. The Nets eventually signed him in February of 2013, where he appeared in 22 games and was coached by Kidd.
Best known as a bruising, defensive oriented center, Collins greatest triumphs were starting for the Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals against Shaquille O’Neal, and making an appearance as an openly gay NBA player.
He said he will encourage others to take the forward as he did just 18 months ago.
“There are still no publicly gay players in the NFL, NHL or major league baseball. Believe me: They exist. Every pro sport has them. I know some of them personally. When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced to live in fear that he’ll be shunned by teammates or outed by tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point where he’s not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live an authentic life, then coming out won’t be such a big deal. But we’re not there yet.”
Jason Kidd played an important role in Collins’s return to the court, and to the Nets, but many others played a key part in his career to get him to this point. Collins thanked those in his post on ThePlayersTribune.com.
“There are so many people I have to thank for helping me on my journey. My family, friends, and fans empower me each and every day. My teammates, coaches, and the Brooklyn Nets organization gave me an opportunity. The entire NBA family, where the leadership of David Stern and Adam Silver created an environment that made me feel safe to step forward. My agent, Arn Tellem, who is like the cool uncle everyone wishes they had. All the fans in New York who would see me walking on the street and say, “Hey Collins, good luck tonight!” or “We are proud of you!” To all the people who came out before me and helped clear the path for others to follow. And the many countless individuals who have fought and sacrificed for human and civil rights, period. Thank you.”
Are you surprised by Jason Collins’ decision to retire?[Photo Credit: Source Keith Allison]
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