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After 13 years on the court, Jason Collins is retiring from the NBA.
The free agent will make the formal announcement at Wednesday night’s Brooklyn Nets home game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, shared his thoughts on the career move in a essay published in Sports Illustrated, the same magazine that he used as a platform to come out 18 months ago. “It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history,” he wrote.
He also noted that the Barclays Center match will be especially important to him, since the Bucks “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.”
See more Stars’ Best Speeches When Coming Out
After recalling memorable moments on the court over the past year and a half, he called for action in other major sports: “There are still no publicly gay players in the NFL, NHL or major league baseball. Believe me: They exist. Every pro sport has them. I know some of them personally. When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced to live in fear that he’ll be shunned by teammates or outed by tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point where he’s not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live an authentic life, then coming out won’t be such a big deal. But we’re not there yet.”
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