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.”