NEW YORK (AP) — The coming-out part is over. Now Jason Collins needs a job.
Collins’ stunning announcement that he was a gay athlete in a major sport won overwhelming support from other players, coaches and executives — even a phone call from the president.
But it also came after the season ended for the 7-foot center and his Washington Wizards.
The 34-year-old journeyman becomes a free agent on July 1 — meaning that he will first have to sign with an NBA team and wait until next season to see if teammates, coaches, opponents and fans will treat him any differently.
“I think the real response will be once he gets a job,” said Brooklyn Nets veteran Jerry Stackhouse, who has called Collins a friend for years.
His basketball skills were praised by President Barack Obama at a White House news conference Tuesday, a day after he telephoned Collins to offer his support. According to Obama, Collins was “a role model” who was unafraid to come out as gay and to say, “I’m still 7-foot-tall and can bang with Shaq and, you know, deliver a hard foul.”
ESPN says that it regrets the “distraction” caused by one of its reporters who described Jason Collins as a sinner after the NBA center publicly revealed that he was gay.
Chris Broussard, who covers the NBA for ESPN, had said on the air that Collins and others in the NBA who engage in premarital sex or adultery were “walking in open rebellion to God, and to Jesus Christ.” Broussard, a former reporter for The New York Times, spoke during ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program Monday discussing Collins’ announcement.
Broussard in an online message on Tuesday said that he had previously discussed his point of view about homosexuality publicly.