Collins is 'happiest' ever, but not everyone celebrates gay NBA player

Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:26pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Veteran basketball player Jason Collins basked in support and declared himself as happy as he had ever been on Tuesday, but not everyone was pleased about his becoming the first openly gay player in North America's four major professional sports leagues.

Collins revealed he was gay on Monday in a Sports Illustrated article, a reluctant pioneer who broke one of the last barriers of American sport.

He was given the presidential seal of approval when Barack Obama personally called to congratulate him, and also received overwhelming support from other professional athletes and celebrities from the entertainment world.

Appearing on a popular breakfast television show on Tuesday, Collins looked and sounded like a man at ease with himself.

"I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I've ever been in my life," he told Good Morning America.

"A huge weight has been lifted. I've already been out to my family and my friends, but just to, you know, sort of rip the Band-Aid off and come out on my own terms."

Not everyone was applauding Collins, a center who played last season with the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. While most comments seemed positive, there were also critics.

Hines Ward, a former wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL), said the sport would not embrace homosexuality.   Continued...