NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former Nets center Jason Collins is being honored in GQ Magazine’s “Men of the Year” issue for 2013.
Collins was named GQ’s “Game Changer of the Year.” He made history in April as the first active male athlete in the four major American pro sports to come out.
“The order of those (first) three sentences was deliberate,” Collins told GQ of his first-person account in Sports Illustrated. “I do identify myself as a black man before I identify myself as a gay man. It was also important for me to put my age and the length of my playing career before the fact that I’m gay. Twelve years is a long time in any professional sport. I felt that that longevity speaks to something — and to the fact that I’ve earned a right to speak.”
Collins was a member of the Washington Wizards when he announced he was gay. The 7-footer was linked to the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets during the offseason but remains a free agent.
The 35-year-old was a member of the New Jersey Nets from 2001-08 and has also had stints in Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta and Boston. Collins played in 32 games for the Celtics in 2012-13, averaging 1.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists in 10.3 minutes. In six games for Washington, he averaged 0.7 points, 1.3 boards and 0.3 assists in 9.0 minutes.
“You see me, right? I’m in excellent shape,” Collins said. “Right now I feel what I’ve felt for the last twelve years — that when I’m running up and down the court with my opponent, I’ll have that voice in my head saying, ‘I trained so much harder in the summertime than this! There’s no way you’ve worked as hard as me!’ I’ve put the time in. I’m ready.”
Collins marched in Boston’s gay pride parade on June 8. On Tuesday, he spoke out against homophobia alongside tennis legend Martina Navratilova at a United Nations event.
“Before the SI story, I was only willing to make a private gesture — the number 98 that I wore last season, for the year Matthew Shepard died,” Collins told GQ. “Whenever anyone asked, I said I was trying to mess with the refs. … It’s funny. I was able to use my reputation as a rough player as a cloak.”
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