Jason Collins, NBA’s first openly gay player, announces he’s retiring

Jason Collins

Jason Collins AP

Jason Collins, a 13-year veteran of the National Basketball Association who last year became the league’s first openly gay player, is retiring.

Collins, 35, announced his retirement in a first-person article for Sports Illustrated, saying it has been “been 18 exhilarating months” since he came out as the first openly gay man in one of the four major North American professional leagues.

It has been 18 exhilarating months since I came out in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay man in one of the four major professional team sports. And it has been nine months since I signed with the Nets and became the first openly gay male athlete to appear in a game in one of those leagues. 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.

On Wednesday at the Barclays Center, I plan to announce my retirement as an NBA player.

Collins also remarks on the lack of openly gay players in professional 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.

Collins also speaks with SI.com’s Jon Wertheim. Watch:

Collins played 22 games with the Brooklyn Nets last season and was not on the roster this season.

He started his career with the New Jersey Nets in 2001 and rejoined the franchise in Brooklyn in February. He had a number of former teammates on the Brooklyn team, including former coach Jason Kidd.

Collins thanked Kidd for his support, “considering all the speculation about problems I might face within the locker room.” Collins says he’s “happy to have helped put those canards to rest.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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