Celtics  veterans unanimously supported former teammate Jason Collins ‘ decision to come out as the first openly gay player in major American sports in an autobiographical Sports Illustrated piece .
Collins told C’s coach Doc Rivers  a few days ago and phoned Celtics captain Paul Pierce  before the news broke on Monday morning. Rivers, Pierce, Kevin Garnett , Jeff Green  and Jason Terry  all expressed genuine happiness for Collins, and their words must reinforce the erstwhile Celtics center’s decision to come forward.
Here are the Celtics speaking about Collins in their own words:
Did you think you’d ever see an athlete come out when he was still active?
Garnett: ‘I never really gave it much thought, to be honest. People’s sexual preference has nothing to do with my own.’
What’s your reaction to Jason Collins’ statement?
Pierce: ‘I had a chance to talk to Jason before the news broke. The crazy thing about it is that it’s always something I mentally thought was going to happen — that there was going to be a gay player in professional sports to come out. It just so happens that he seems to be the first, and I was one of his teammates.
“To each his own. I think it’s going to open a door to many more. There are so many professional athletes, there are so many human beings, that live a dark life, that are afraid to expose it because of the exposure of sports and what people might think about them, but I think what he did was a great thing — to just open a door to a number of athletes that are going to have the courage to come out.’
Rivers: “When he called me to tell me, you could tell he wanted to tell me. I told him before he said it, ‘Jason, I could care less about what you’re about to tell me.’ And that’s how I feel. I honestly feel that way. It’s a non-factor to me, and I know it is a factor to a lot of people. I’ve just never understood why anyone cares what someone else does. You know what I mean by that? And I told Jason that. I said, It’ll be a non-issue, eventually, but it will not be right now.’ And it’ll be news. Maybe it should be or shouldn’t be. I don’t even know the answer to that.’
Green: ‘I was happy for him. He’s a good friend of mine. He was a great teammate. Like Doc said, he’s a pro’s pro. He led by example, did what he had to do and he went about his business. I’m truly, truly happy for him, and I’m glad he’s happy.’
Terry: ‘I’m happy for him. It looks like he had a huge, tremendous weight lifted off of him. That’s all you can ask — for any man and woman to be at peace with themselves — and then you can go find that ultimate happiness. I think that’s where he is. Being a teammate of his, I know how hard he works, how dedicated he is to his craft. He was a great teammate, regardless of his sexual preference. It didn’t matter to me. I liked him as a guy, as a teammate, and I still do.’
Did he ask you if you thought he should come out?
Rivers: “He told me he was coming out, and I told him, ‘Great, good, let’s move forward.’ And I jokingly said, ‘I wish you could have gotten me more rebounds,’ because that’s all I care about really at the end of the day.”
Green: ‘We’re all here for the same reason, and that’s to win. It doesn’t matter to me. We play basketball, and that’s our job. No matter if you’re gay or if you’re straight, it doesn’t matter to me. We play basketball, and that’s our job. What you do outside the court, that’s your business.’
Would you like to have him as a teammate next year?
Pierce: “That’s up to the organization. I thought while he was here, he was very professional, and we need more guys like that. The way he carried himself, what he did off the court and in practice, he was one of the more professional players you’ll see. There was the time at the beginning of the year when he didn’t play much, but what you saw from him was a guy who came in and got his work done and didn’t complain. We need more guys like him.’
Green: ‘He was an awesome teammate. He played the game hard. He set good screens, and he got me open, so that’s all you can ask for.’
Terry: ‘We definitely needed his toughness, and I would love to have it in this series. He’s one of the toughest guys in the NBA.’
Green: ‘He showed me what it takes to be a pro. I’m young. This is only my fifth year, and when you have a veteran like him who comes to work every day and does his job, that’s all a coach can ask and that’s something that a young guy looks up to.’