The first openly-gay NBA player, Collins
decided to use Sports Illustrated
magazine to reveal his orientation.
In a column he penned, he said, "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport." He acknowledged that he did resist his homosexuality and, in fact, dated women and was even engaged
. "I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her," he confessed.
Part of the reason he didn't come out
sooner was his sense of loyalty to the team he played for at the time, The Boston Celtics. "I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction," he admitted.
In the article, he predicted that many people will be shocked at hearing the news. "I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay?" He knew that people tend to speak of locker room behavior when they hear a sports figure is gay. The 7-foot star's response was simply, "Believe me, I've taken plenty of showers in 12 seasons. My behavior wasn't an issue before, and it won't be one now."
After twelve seasons in the NBA, Collins felt he deserved to be able to open up in this way. "I'm a veteran, and I've earned the right to be heard. I'll lead by example and show that gay players are no different from straight ones." Before the infamous Sports Illustrated piece, Collins hadn't told anyone in the NBA his news.
No one was as surprised as Collins' twin brother and colleague in the NBA, Jarron
He was downright astounded. He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me.