Collins calls time on NBA career


Published: Wednesday 19th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Jason Collins, the first openly gay man to play in one of the four major North American professional leagues, announced his retirement on Wednesday after 13 years in the NBA.

The 35-year-old Collins disclosed his plans in a first-person story for Sports Illustrated, the same forum he used in April 2013 to publicly reveal his sexuality.

Collins joined the Brooklyn Nets in February and played 22 games for the team, but was not on the roster this season.

“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,” Collins wrote.

Collins started his career with the New Jersey Nets in 2001 and rejoined the franchise in Brooklyn last February. He revealed at the end of the 2013 season that he is gay, but was a free agent and remained unsigned until the Nets needed another big man.

They turned to the seven-foot Collins, who had helped them reach the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. He signed a 10-day contract, playing his first game as an out gay man on February 23 on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers to a warm ovation and stayed the rest of the season.

Nets general manager Billy King congratulated Collins on a “distinguished NBA career” in a statement.

“He was an integral part of the back-to-back Eastern Conference Championship teams,” King said. “We wish him well as he embarks on a new chapter in his career.”

Nets spokesman Aaron Harris said Collins is expected to address the media at the Barclays Center on Wednesday night before the Nets game with the Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks coach Jason Kidd was Brooklyn’s coach last year, and Collins singled him out for the “courage” he showed in bringing him on board.

“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,” he wrote. “I’m happy to have helped put those canards to rest.”

The Stanford graduate went in the first round of the 2001 NBA draft, picked 18th overall. He also played for Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston and Washington. In his career, he averaged 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 20.4 minutes.

Published: Wednesday 19th November 2014 by The News Editor

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