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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

NBA offers support to Jason Collins after his decision to come out

04.29.13 at 1:33 pm ET
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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.

 

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Ex-Celtic Jason Collins reveals he is gay

04.29.13 at 11:31 am ET
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Center Jason Collins, who spent most of the season with the Celtics before being traded to the Wizards in February, reveals in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated that he is gay.

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.

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Kenyon Martin guarantees Celtics ‘funeral’ in Game 5

04.29.13 at 11:25 am ET
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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.”

Celtics guard Jason Terry, who provided the sunshine in a Game 4 victory, must have felt it, too.

“The guy was mouthing off before the game,” Knicks forward Kenyon Martin told the New York Daily News. “He told me, ‘You’re not dancing at my funeral today.'”

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.”

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

Adrian Wojnarowski on D&C: ‘No easy path back’ to contention for Celtics

04.29.13 at 9:04 am ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and the NBA playoffs.

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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Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, Kevin Durant

Paul Pierce: ‘I had a certain calmness’ about Game 4

04.28.13 at 9:17 pm ET
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Paul Pierce wasn’t preoccupied with “what-ifs” heading into an elimination game Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. What if the Celtics lost? Could this be the last game in a Celtics uniform for the captain who is signed through next season.

“To be honest, I was calm,” Pierce said. “I had a certain calmness about the game today,” Pierce said after scoring a team-high 29 points in a 97-90 overtime win against the Knicks that kept the season alive and sent the series back to New York for Game 5 Wednesday night.

Pierce played nine seconds shy of 50 minutes on this day that his Celtics career might have ended. He didn’t want it to end like this, on his home court, blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and missing a trademark iso shot that would’ve won the game in regulation.

‘€œYeah you know every game is tough in the playoffs,” Pierce said. “We had a sizable lead, but we understood that they could make a run. They’€™re a good team. But you know, we gotta limit their runs. We gotta be better, especially in the third quarter. That’€™s been our Achilles heel in this series, and so hopefully we can look to improve upon that in Game 5.’€

Pride is a word that gets thrown around a lot but the Celtics showed a lot of it in the fourth quarter when the Knicks had already gotten back into the game and could sense the kill. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry rallied the troops.

‘€œYeah, there was a lot of pride,” Pierce said. “Us, as [leaders] of the team, we’ve got to instill it in these guys. You saw with the attitude before the game, we knew we were gonna come out with the force we did today, and it carried over into the game. And this crowd. You gotta give a hand to this crowd. They really gave us a boost. Everytime I look up there, you feel it, you see it, you hear it; there’€™s just so much pride when you look around, the banners, the crowd and everything going on with the Boston Celtics history.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett: ‘It’s all out from here on out’

04.28.13 at 7:42 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett isn’t making any excuses for the way the Celtics played in the first three games of this series.

“We put ourselves in this 3-0 position,” said Garnett after his team’s 97-90 win over the Knicks. “That’s not where you want to be as a team, but it’s what it is. Today we fought for another day, and we’ll do the same Wednesday.”

Garnett grabbing 17 rebounds for the second straight game while adding 13 points on just seven shots and dishing out six assists, helping the C’s avoid a sweep for the first time since 2004.

“If we want to survive and continue to play, this is what it is,” said Garnett. “This is the position we put ourselves in. To continue to play, we’ve got to continue to win, so it’s all out from here on out.”

Garnett insisted their mentality never changed between Games 3 and 4. Shots started falling. That’s it.

“Instead of talking, we actually came out and did it,” he said after the C’s scored 80 points for the first time all series. “There wasn’t a lot of verbal. This is it. We were down 3-0. What else is there to say?”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, New York Knicks
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