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Jerry Stackhouse 'proud' of ex-teammate Jason Collins' courage in coming out

Nets veteran says that 'as a league, we have to support him'
04/29/2013 11:13 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro
NBA veteran center Jason Collins revealed in an exclusive Sports Illustrated article posted Monday morning on the SI website that he is gay, discussing in the essay his decision to come out as the first openly gay male athlete in American professional team sports.

Like current Brooklyn Nets teammate Joe Johnson, Jerry Stackhouse played alongside Collins on the Atlanta Hawks last season, and following Brooklyn’s victory over Chicago in Game 5 of their playoff series Monday night, Stackhouse spoke with the media at length about Collins as both a man and a player.

Stackhouse on Collins coming out: “I’m very proud that he had the courage to step out the way he did, and as a league we have to support him.”

On speaking to Collins: “I knew about [the potential of a player coming out] for a while. I didn’t know exactly who it was, but there was talk, and some guys had been discussing what people may think about someone coming out. Once I found out who it was, I reached out to him…we were teammates in Atlanta and I got to know him quite well, and he was just another guy.”

On Collins’ personality and his decision to come out: “He was always joking. He has a dry humor but he’s a fun guy. I think he has a lot of weight off his shoulders now. I talked with him, and I think he just got tired of living a lie and having to tell half-truths, and now I think he can just go out and enjoy his life, and hopefully he can continue to do it on a basketball court.”

On Collins as a player: “When you’re tough, you’re tough; he was a guy who went in the game and knew his job was to come into the game and take six hard fouls; that’s what he did, and he did it well. Like I said, I hope that his career can continue, because I know he wants to play.”

On what Collins’ announcement means to the NBA and sports: “I think that we’re one of the…I don’t like to use the word tolerant, but I just think we’re more open-minded to different race, gender, whatever; even [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] was talking about drafting [former Baylor University star and No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick Brittney] Griner. I just think we’re open to a lot of things, and I think we’ve come a long way.”

On the impact of Collins’ announcement: “The fact that we have a player that came out…there may be more players in the league who have a fear of coming out, but now that someone has taken a stand, they may be able to get past whatever fears they may have and be able to live and take that burden off their shoulders.”

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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