Former Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, who spent his first seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets and returned to the franchise as the first openly gay male athlete to play in one of the four major professional sports last season, officially announced his retirement from the NBA in an op-ed penned for Sports Illustrated.
Collins came out as gay in another article written for Sports Illustrated shortly after the 2012-2013 playoffs, and the Nets signed him to a ten-day contract in February of 2013, keeping him for the rest of the season.
Collins will officially announce his retirement at a press conference at Barclays Center before the Nets-Bucks game Wednesday.
As is his style these days, Collins’s op-ed gave him the opportunity to put his retirement in his own words. Here’s an excerpt from what he had to say:
On Wednesday at the Barclays Center, I plan to announce my retirement as an NBA player. The day will be especially meaningful for me because the Nets will be playing the Bucks, who are coached by Jason Kidd, my former teammate and my coach in Brooklyn. It was Jason who cheered my decision to come out by posting on Twitter: “Jason’s sexuality doesn’t change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate.”
Considering all the speculation about problems I might face within the locker room, Jason’s support was significant. It had been argued that no team would want to take on a player who was likely to attract a media circus from the outset and whose sexuality would be a distraction. I’m happy to have helped put those canards to rest. The much-ballyhooed media blitz to cover me unscrambled so quickly that a flack jokingly nicknamed me Mr. Irrelevant.
Collins also wrote a longer, more explicative letter in The Player’s Tribune about his journey.
In a video interview with Sports Illustrated, Collins notes that the timing of the retirement announcement — with Kidd returning to Brooklyn — was no coincidence. “It’ll be special going over to the Barclays Center, making this announcement over there,” Collins said.
“Even more special for me is that Jason Kidd will be there, the entire Nets organization has been incredible throughout my career, especially last year. But also with J-Kidd coaching with the Milwaukee Bucks, and his first night there back in Brooklyn, hopefully I can be a peacemaker,” Collins added, laughing. “Although it’ll be a fun game. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all goes down there.”
“The Nets would like to congratulate Jason on a distinguished NBA career,” Nets GM Billy King said in a prepared statement. “He was an integral part of the back-to-back Eastern Conference Championship teams. We wish him well as he embarks on a new chapter in his career.”
Collins, 35, leaves the game with career averages of 3.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.8 personal fouls per game, in 735 career regular season games, adding 95 in the playoffs. He played for six teams in his 13-year career.