The NBA's Jason Collins became the first active major-league American athlete to come out of the closet when he declared this morning in a Sports Illustrated cover story, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay." Collins, a 12-year veteran who played last season for the Washington Wizards, goes on to describe his personal history, explain why he decided to make this announcement, and address how he'll be received by his fellow players. "I've been asked how other players will respond to my announcement," Collins writes. "The simple answer is, I have no idea. I'm a pragmatist. I hope for the best, but plan for the worst."
Collins is right to be guarded about how his peers will react. When retired NBA center John Amaechi announced he was gay in 2007, the response from some NBA players was mixed if not outright homophobic. And even though public attitudes toward gay people has become infinitely more enlightened since 2007, there will probably be a handful of players who — even if they're smart enough not to say so publicly — won't be thrilled about having a gay teammate in the locker room. But on Twitter today, NBA players past and present are responding to Collins's news with love and support.
Congratulations to Jason - society couldn't hope for a more eloquent & positive role model: buff.ly/10OvOMd— John Amaechi OBE (@JohnAmaechi) April 29, 2013
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
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
Jason Collins much respect,Stay up my guy!— Kenny Anderson (@chibbs_1) April 29, 2013
Jason Collins comes out & speaks his truth. #NBA— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) April 29, 2013
Jason Collins coming out as gay. I'm surprised, but happy for big fella to get it off his chest.#Nets— Bostjan Nachbar (@BokiNachbar) April 29, 2013
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
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
Sports has always been the most accepting community of those who are different! I don't think it will be any less for @jasoncollins34!— Greg Anthony (@GregAnthony50) April 29, 2013
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
Much respect to Jason Collins. Don't know him at all but takes one hell of a man to come out in today's world!!— IG: 13POB13 (@13POB13) April 29, 2013
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
Doc Rivers: "I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro." Read Doc's full statement: on.nba.com/15UPgaR— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 29, 2013
Much Respect for @jasoncollins34 that took a lot of courage!— Rasual Butler (@RasualButler45) April 29, 2013
@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
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
I have to respect @jasoncollins34 . Hope people will respect his decision and respect for the courage it took.#support#respect#NBAfamily— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) April 29, 2013
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 (@JanVesely24) April 29, 2013
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
Happy for my former teammate Jason Colllins. A true American. "home of the free because of the brave"— Rudy Gay (@rudygay22) April 29, 2013
Here's the first less-than-100%-positive tweet from an NBA player we've seen so far, from the Indiana Pacers' David West:
My only issue with Collins is his "Im Black" buffer...— David West (@D_West30) April 29, 2013
@taurusbone A statement of the obvious...— David West (@D_West30) April 29, 2013
Update, 2:02 p.m.: Some of the tweets might not be as heartfelt as they appear. As commenter CY99MADDUX points out, retired Spurs guard Bruce Bowen and current Spurs guard Tony Parker tweeted out the exact same message of encouragement.
This post is being constantly updated.