Members of the Portland Trail Blazers expressed their support for Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, who revealed that he is gay in a Sports Illustrated story with Franz Lidz this week. Collins, a 12-year pro who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, becomes the first active, openly-gay male athlete in one of America's four major professional sports leagues.
"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."
Blazers forward Nicolas Batum...
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
Blazers guard Nolan Smith...
I salute @jasoncollins34 for the courage it took for him to come out today and be who he truly is. #support #NBAFamily— Nolan D. Smith (@NdotSmitty) April 29, 2013
Former Blazers forward Martell Webster, now with the Wizards...
@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
Former Blazers assistant coach Bill Bayno, to Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post...
Assistant #TWolves coach Billy Bayno re #JasonCollins: "I was really uplifted by all the people who came out in support of him."— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) April 29, 2013
Collins' twin brother, Jarron, also spent 10 years in the NBA, including five games with the Blazers during the 2010-11 season. He provided his thoughts to Sports Illustrated as well, indicating that he was not aware that his twin brother was gay until 2012.
"I had no idea. We talked, he answered my questions, I hugged him and I digested what he had told me. At the end of the day, this is what matters: He's my brother, he's a great guy, and I want him to be happy. I'll love him and I'll support him and, if necessary, I'll protect him. ... Jason has taken a huge weight off his shoulders. And I've never been more proud of him."
Thanks to jeff-b for posting the Collins story in the FanShots this morning.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter