Former Stanford star and 14-year NBA veteran Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete to play a major American sport when he came out in an SI article.
He began the first person narrative with, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
Collins went to college at Stanford, and was named to the All-Pac-10 first team in 2001. His .608 career field goal percentage still ranks first in school history.
He spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the Nets, helping them reach the Finals as a rookie in 2002. He has since bounced around on five different teams in the past seven years, playing for the Wizards last season.
“Imagine you’re in the oven, baking,” Collins wrote. “Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern supported Colllins’ decision, saying, “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.”
Having a pro athlete in a major American sport come out as gay has been long-overdue and highly-criticized. In the end, though, we need to take a step back and look at the big picture.
Does it really matter that one of your teammates or opponents is gay? Does being gay set you apart from everyone else?
The answer to those questions has been debated for years, but in my opinion, it’s a deafening “no.”
Jason Collins did the right thing, and was extremely brave in doing so.