Ex-New Jersey Nets center Jason Collins became the first active male athlete in a major team sport to publicly declare that he is gay Monday morning, and Brooklyn Nets players and executives have released statements regarding his announcement.
From Nets guard Joe Johnson, who was a teammate of Collins’s with the Atlanta Hawks:
Jason Collins was one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. I respect his tremendous courage to come out and will always support him.
From Nets center Brook Lopez, who, like Collins, attended Stanford with his twin brother before both joined the NBA:
It is an honor for me to call Jason Collins a friend. I admire his dignity as well as his courage to come out. I’ll always have his back.
From interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo:
The NBA reflects society. I think society is hopefully a lot more mature, or accepting, or ready for acting the way we should act. … I think it’s great that Jason did it. I think the NBA will react very, very well. … I hope that we would react even better than the rest of society. Given the family aspect and what we all do together every year, I would think we would handle it a lot better.
Carlesimo added that he is not concerned with any locker room issues with a gay player, and the players would not have any concerns, either.
From recently re-signed Nets General Manager Billy King:
Jason Collins was a vital member of the New Jersey Nets for six and a half years, and as an executive with a competing NBA team, I always respected the standard he set for team play and the example he set for the league in playing with integrity and purpose. He exemplifies everything we look for in players, and for those players and associates within our organization, our primary focus is creating the most accepting and respectful environment for everyone to succeed.
Nets assistant General Manager Bobby Marks, who worked with Collins as a rookie, spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
“He was different than everyone else,” Marks told Yahoo! Sports. “He was our tough guy, and he’d go out and set hard screens all night, knock a couple people down. And then, the next morning, you’d see him and all you would talk about were world events.
“Because of who he is – his parents, his family, his character – he will be able to handle whatever comes with this mantle. I always remember: Back in ’04, Jason laid out Timmy Thomas of the Knicks early in that playoff series. Just crushed him. Then, he had to walk into Madison Square Garden as the villain for Games 3 and 4.
“They went after him real good, and he never flinched.”