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What they had to say about Collins

Reaction from NBA veteran Jason Collins’ first-person account published in Sports Illustrated, as he came out as the first gay male player in the four major American professional sports:

“If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance.” – Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers

“It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities.” – former President Bill Clinton

“Hey Jason Collins – you are now an activist!!! And trust me, you will sleep a lot better now – freedom is a sweet feeling indeed!” – tennis great Martina Navratilova

“Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.” – NBA Commissioner David Stern

“Hopefully he can pave the way for other gay men in sports to be able to live free. I really do feel like it’s all coming together now, the dominos are starting to fall in a positive direction in all aspects of the LGBTQ community and it’s such an exciting time.” – U.S. women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe, who came out just before the 2012 London Olympics

“I only want one thing out of my teammate: a commitment to winning. Whether he is straight, gay, black, white, from Earth, or from Mars is immaterial. Just help us win.” – Miami Heat forward Shane Battier

“I think he is immensely brave. I think it’s a shame in this day and age he has to be immensely brave, but he is.” – Former NBA player John Amaechi, who came out as gay in 2007

“Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others.” – Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

“I will always support people for being who they are. Happy for @jasoncollins34 that he can lead an honest life.” – Cleveland Indians outfielder Nick Swisher

“I don’t think he’ll be received any differently. There shouldn’t be any reason you would view him differently.” – Milwaukee Bucks guard J.J. Redick

“Jason represented everything that we look for as a member of the Atlanta Hawks and we are proud he wore our jersey.” – Atlanta Hawks managing partner Bruce Levinson

“I’m sure there were, who cares though?” – former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson, asked if he ever had a gay teammate

“Jason is one of the best teammates that I’ve ever had. He was a great presence in the locker room and an even better person.” – Atlanta Hawks forward-center Zaza Pachulia

“I was surprised. I didn’t know and I was right next to him in the locker room.” – Wizards guard Garrett Temple.

“Jason Collins’ commitment to living openly is a monumental step forward toward greater equality and he immediately becomes a role model for youth all across this country.” – Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin

“Basketball does not define Jason Collins. His decision to come out publicly doesn’t define Jason Collins. What defines Jason, is he is a first-rate human being who made a huge contribution to (Stanford), and every team or community he has been a part of.” – Former NBA player and Stanford assistant coach Mark Madsen, a college teammate of Collins’

“I’ve got gay friends, gay people who work for me. It’s not like anything out of the norm.” – Lakers forward Metta World Peace

“Jason Collins showed a lot of courage today and I respect him for taking a stand and choosing to live in his truth. #nbafamily.” – Heat guard Dwyane Wade

“I feel a movement coming.” – former U.S. men’s national soccer team player Robbie Rogers, who revealed this year that he is gay.

“What Jason wrote was beautiful on multiple levels. It’s not a reaction to some rumor and it’s not some unwanted outing. It’s his message, and it was delivered under his control and on his terms.” – Former NFL linebacker Scott Fujita

“I have known him and his family for a long time, since his sophomore year in high school when we started the recruiting process. He is a tremendous player and smart, fierce competitor. Jason is (a) guy you want to have on your side.” – Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery, Collins’ coach at Stanford

“Somebody had to be the first.” – Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez

– Associated Press