Jason Collins, Who Made History By Coming Out, Announces Retirement From NBA

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Jason Collins, who made history by coming out in May of 2013, has announced his retirement from the NBA.

Collins became the first active male in any of the four major professional North American sports to come out.

He wrote a first-person piece for “Sports Illustrated” — which ran on SI.com on Wednesday — announcing the retirement. He shared some thoughts in the column.

“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,” Collins wrote. “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.”

Collins will be on hand at Barclays Center on Wednesday to announce the retirement.

“The day will be especially meaningful for me because the Nets will be playing the Bucks, who are coached by Jason Kidd, my former teammate and my coach in Brooklyn,” Collins wrote. “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.'”

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

“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.”

Collins played in the NBA from 2001-2014.

After Collins came out, NFL hopeful Michael Sam did the same. Sam was drafted, but is not currently on an NFL roster after having been cut twice.

“There are still no publicly gay players in the NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball,” Collins wrote. “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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