Jason Collins sat quietly Friday morning at TD Garden waiting for the media horde and gradually more and more reporters surrounded the Brooklyn Nets center, asking about his experience since being the first active professional athlete in the four major sports to announce he is gay.
Collins, who spent part of last season with the Celtics, said he has received “100 percentage support” since signing a 10-day contract on Feb. 23. Collins has since signed a second 10-day contract with the Nets.
“I’m just trying to focus on basketball, not really focus on the off-the-court stuff,” he said hours before the Nets faced the Celtics. “So that’s been really helpful for me. (My treatment) has been great, 100 percent supportive. I’m looking forward to playing here tonight, obviously I’m a former Celtic and I’m looking forward to it.”
Collins said the attention he’s received is dying down.
“Like I said, there’s only so many ways you can write the story about the off-the-court stuff,” he said. “It’s kind of funny but it’s how I predicted it would be (not that big of a deal).”
After the NBA regular season ended last April, Collins announced his was gay in a Sports Illustrated article. The past 11 months, he said, has been a whirlwind experience.
“It’s been a lot of memories that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Collins said. “Being able to meet so many great people, whether it be people who run charities and organizations to the President and First Lady, hearing so many different stories and just being inspired by all the support.”
Before his announcement, Collins talked with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers and former forward Paul Pierce about the repercussions.
“It meant a lot, it means a lot,” Collins said. “Doc Rivers is obviously a Hall of Fame coach, and Paul and a couple of other teammates within the organization I called before the announcement was made. Their support means the world. I was thinking along my the lines of I wanted to tell my own truth, my own story.”