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Ex-Celtic Jason Collins: ‘I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life’

04.30.13 at 2:10 pm ET
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Jason Collins had a sit-down interview with “Good Morning America” that aired on Tuesday morning, and he said that he has received “incredible” support since coming out as a gay man on Monday. With his recent revelation, Collins has become the first openly gay player in one of the four major U.S. sports leagues.

“I think, I know, in my personal life, I’m ready and I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player,” Collins told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Collins’ announcement was featured in a first-person article on Sports Illustrated’s website Monday and will be appearing as the cover story in next week’s issue. Collins was asked by Stephanopoulos if he hopes other players will follow his example.

“I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness, whatever happiness that is in life,” Collins said. “I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life.”

The former Celtics center has received a nearly unanimous positive response and lots of support, including a phone call from President Barack Obama.

“It’s incredible. Just try to live an honest, genuine life and the next thing you know you have the president calling you,” Collins said. “He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me, said this not only affected my life but others going forward.”

Collins also spoke of former tennis star Martina Navratilova‘s decision to come out in 1981, and calls her his “role model.” He added that he could hopefully become someone else’s role model in the future.

Collins, who averaged 1.1 points per game this season with the Celtics and Wizards, is a free agent who plans to continue his career and is expecting continued support.

“From my teammates, I’m expecting support because that’s what I would do for my teammates,” Collins said. “A team is like a family. The NBA is like a brotherhood. And I’m looking at it like we all support each other, on and off the court.”

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Jeff Green: ‘Playoffs are where players are made’

04.30.13 at 2:00 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Has Jeff Green considered that Game 5 might be the final time we see Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce in a Celtics uniform? ‘€œI have not,’€ Green said before Tuesday’s practice.

Kevin Garnett‘s mantra following the C’s Game 4 victory in Boston — “all out from here on out” — seems to be permeating throughout the locker room, if only because they have no other choice.

‘€œWe have to bring it,” said Green, who brings a playoff average of 20.8 points into Wednesday’s Game 5. “That’€™s the only way we have a chance to win the game. We’€™ve just got to play all out.’€

The Celtics have had their share of issues against the Knicks, but Green hasn’t been one of them. He’s averaging 5.8 boards, 2.3 assists and a block per game while recording a true shooting percentage of 55.

‘€œI’€™ve been working hard,” said Green. “The playoffs are where players are made, and hopefully people are starting to take notice of what I can do, but it is what it is. I know what I can do. I could care less what other people think. It doesn’€™t matter to me. I’€™m just trying to win games for my team.’€

If only so he doesn’t have to answer any more questions about Garnett or Pierce.

But he’ll still have to answer plenty of questions about everything else. Here are his answers:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, NBA, New York Knicks

Jason Terry: ‘Hopefully, the floodgates will open’ for Celtics offense

04.30.13 at 1:35 pm ET
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WALTHAM — For Jason Terry and the Celtics offense, the hope is that Sunday’s Game 4 is a sign that the fuse has been lit.

The veteran point guard was asked before Tuesday’s practice if his 18-point performance on Sunday in Game 4 – which included a season-saving 9-0 run at the end of overtime – is a sign that his offensive game is coming around at the right time.

“I’m just feeding off the fact that I don’t want to go home right now,” Terry said. “I feel like we have a lot of basketball left with this particular group. If we win, we get another opportunity to come back here and play another game.

“We just know that if we can score 90-plus points, we’re going to have an opportunity to win. We’ve doing a decent job defensively of holding them under their season average but offensively, we’ve struggled. We started to get a little bit of a breakthrough the last game. Hopefully, the floodgates will open and we’ll have one of those performances.”

Indeed, the Celtics scored 97 points in Sunday’s 97-90 Game 4 win, though they needed 53 minutes to reach that figure.

“It’s just staying persistent, staying in the moment and knowing every possession is critical,” Terry said. “You can’t turn the ball over. That’s been a struggle for us this series. If we don’t turn it over, we stay persistent and keep defending the way we are, we’re going to have a great chance shot to win the game.”

Is that Terry’s veteran message to other Celtics?

“This is what I’m saying,” Terry said. “This is my approach. If it feeds on to them, hopefully, it does. If it doesn’t, I still have to go out and play like that for myself to be right.”

Of course, Game 5 in New York will be a hostile environment. Some – like Kenyon Martin predicted on Monday – might call it a funeral for the Celtics season. It was Martin who suggested everyone at Madison Square Garden wear black for the occasion. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jason Terry, Kenyon Martin, NBA

Jordan Crawford’s strange choice of socks

04.30.13 at 11:57 am ET
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WALTHAM — While his teammates waxed poetically about the focus necessary to win Wednesday’s do-or-die Game 5 against the Knicks in New York, these are the socks Celtics guard Jordan Crawford chose to wear to practice on Tuesday. They have marijuana leaves on them. Nothing says playoff intensity like weed socks.

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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Celtics ‘just don’t have enough offensive talent’

04.30.13 at 9:52 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to talk about Jason Collins, the Celtics and the playoffs.

Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran who started the season with the Celtics and was traded to the Wizards in February, revealed Monday that he is gay. The support from people in and around the league was immediate and impressive.

“I expected every player to publicly support him, certainly the league to support him,” Van Gundy said. “I think the question that remains is privately, when you get behind the locker room doors, or they’re in their rooms in the hotels, what do they say then? Because everyone’s aware player-wise that to do like what [Dolphins wide receiver] Mike Wallace said yesterday, there’s going to be major repercussions. But to think that some players don’t have those similar thoughts but just won’t publicly express them is a bit naive. I think if Collins is on a roster next year, I think the public support will always be there. Privately, I think there will still be some ignorance to his situation.”

Collins is being heralded as the first active player in major team sports to come out. However, Van Gundy isn’t so sure Collins, a free agent, will be playing next season.

“The big issue whether Collins gets signed next year or if he’s not signed is going to have nothing to do with his sexual orientation and everything to do with his diminishing skills and athleticism,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a marginal NBA player right now, at best.”

The Celtics head back to New York for Wednesday’s Game 5 as heavy underdogs as they look to extend the series.

“I just think that the Celtics, are they going to be able to find enough offense over the next three games to legitimately put pressure on New York,” Van Gundy said. “Certainly if they win Game 5, anything becomes possible then because then you just have to win one home game to get to the ultimate Game 7. But when I see them, their guard struggles are so dramatic without [Rajon] Rondo that it’s difficult to create quality opportunities in the halfcourt. I think it will be even more so on the road.

“The thing that’s been overlooked is the first two halves of the games in New York, Boston was great. So many people have been focusing on what was wrong in the second halves, and I think it’s a talent issue, they just don’t have enough offensive talent with the loss of Rondo and Ray Allen from last year. But if they can stay in a faster-paced game, like they can get that ball and advance it and attack before the Knick defense gets set, then we’ve seen how effective Jeff Green can be in that type of game, [Paul] Pierce can hit some trail 3’s. I just think they have to play with pace and offensive energy. And if they can do that, their defense should be able to limit New York. They’re still an excellent defensive team.”

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Read More: Dwight Howard, Jason Collins, Jeff Green, Jeff Van Gundy

Joe Kennedy ‘proud to stand with’ Jason Collins

04.29.13 at 2:52 pm ET
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Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, who roomed with former Celtics center Jason Collins at Stanford University, issued the following statement about his friend’s decision to come out as the first openly gay athlete in any major American sport:

‘€œFor as long as I’ve known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he’s got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I’m proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend.’€

Kennedy played a vital role in Collins’ decision to write a Sports Illustrated article announcing his sexuality. Here’s what Collins said about his Cardinal roommate:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton declared on Twitter, “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” in addition to issuing the following statement on his website:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jason Collins, Joe Kennedy, NBA

Celtics coach Doc Rivers ‘proud of’ Jason Collins

04.29.13 at 2:09 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers issued this statement after former C’s center Jason Collins became the first openly gay active player in major American sports:

“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’€™s a pro’€™s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite ‘team’ players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be. It’s not up to you, it’€™s just me being me.'”

Outing himself in this Sports Illustrated article, Collins quoted Rivers: “If you want to go quickly, go by yourself — if you want to go farther, go in a group.”

As recently as three weeks ago, Rivers discussed the inevitability of an openly gay NBA player. ‘€œThere’€™ll be a lot of talk about it, and then I think it will go away,’€ Rivers said before a Celtics practice on April 9, the day after he took the team to watch the “42” film about Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.

SI’s Ian Thomsen caught up with Rivers after Collins’ announcement on Monday.

“He is terrific,” Rivers told Thomsen. “Losing him was hard for me because I just thought he was such a great teammate and such a great guy in the locker room. That’s what you want is those guys in your locker room.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Collins, NBA
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