|04.30.13 at 9:52 am ET|
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.”
|04.29.13 at 2:52 pm ET|
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:
‘For 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:
|04.29.13 at 2:09 pm ET|
“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. ‘There’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.”
|04.29.13 at 1:33 pm ET|
There has been overwhelmingly positive response to former Celtics center Jason Collins‘ revelation Monday that he is gay. Collins revealed his homosexuality in a first-person article he wrote for Sports Illustrated.
NBA commissioner David Stern made his support clear in a statement released shortly after the article was posted on the web.
“As [deputy NBA commissioner] Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and [twin brother] Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family,” Stern said. “Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”
Collins, 34, is a free agent after playing out the season with the Wizards following his trade from Boston in February.
“We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly,” Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfield said in a statement. “He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.”
A number of NBA players also offered encourgament via Twitter.
‘ Kenneth Faried (@KennethFaried35) April 29, 2013
|04.29.13 at 11:31 am ET|
Collins, a free agent, explained that at the age of 34 and with 12 NBA seasons (among six teams) behind him, he feels more comfortable discussing his sexuality. He also explained that Boston played a key role in his decision, which he had been considering since the 2011 NBA lockout.
Writes Collins: “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.”
Collins also explained that he wore the No. 98 this season because of the year’s significance to the gay community. In 1998, gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, tortured and tied to a fence, eventually dying from his injuries.
“When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends,” Collins writes.
|04.29.13 at 11:25 am ET|
On his way into TD Garden on Sunday, a Celtics fan who watched his team fall into a 3-0 hole in the first round admitted, “It feels like I’m going to a wake.”
Terry’s 18 points, including the C’s final nine in their 97-90 overtime win, made true on that promise. So, Martin made his own vow to lay the Celtics to rest in Game 5.
“We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin told the Daily News, requesting his teammates “wear black. Funeral colors.”
|04.29.13 at 9:04 am ET|
The league’s two most successful franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, have become also-rans, and the future is not promising for either team.
“There’s no question there’s been a changing of the guard in the league,” Wojnarowski said. “You look at both teams, the Lakers and Boston, it’s going to be a while before either is in contention again. It’s hard to rebuild in this league, and it doesn’t happen quickly unless you draft LeBron [James] or Kevin Durant. It’s going to take a while, and I think both organizations have to face that reality, because we aren’t going to see these two in the finals again in the foreseeable future, that’s for sure.”
Wojnarowski said the the Celtics have a better front office than the Lakers and a more appealing coach in Doc Rivers, but the Lakers are more likely to return to prominence first because of the appeal of Los Angeles.
“If the Lakers have cap space, they’re always a team that’s going to attract the best player on the market,” Wojnarowski said. “I think Boston, as long as Doc is there and Doc is coaching, I think Boston is very attractive to players, more so to the elite players. But even then, Chris Paul didn’t want to come when they talked deals. It’s not LA.”
Wojnarowski said he thinks the Celtics will attempt to rebuild around Rajon Rondo, but they need some fortuitous moves to get out of the middle.
“That’s the worst place to be in the NBA — stuck in the middle,” Wojnarowski said. “You want to be really good or really bad. That’s the fear is you don’t want to get stuck in that middle place, because you can’t get out of it. You become Milwaukee, fighting for the eighth seed. You don’t want that.
“But I do think, though, the emergence of Jeff Green this year, you’ve seen that they can lean on him to do more and be a different kind of player. Listen, a year ago you didn’t know what his career was going to look like, with the heart ailment. And then this year you saw him become a much more explosive and reliable player. I think that’s a bonus for them. You look back at the Kendrick Perkins deal, and certainly it looks a lot better in hindsight than it did to people initially. But there’s no easy path back for them.”
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