CLIPPERS TALK ABOUT JASON COLLINS ANNOUNCEMENT

Washington Wizards center Jason Collins announced on Monday that he is gay via a first-person essay in Sports Illustrated, becoming the first active, openly gay player in any of the four major American professional sports. 

A large contingent of local and national media were on hand after the Clippers wrapped up their morning practice prior to Game 5 of their Western Conference playoff series to ask players and coaches about Collins’ landmark announcement.

Here is what Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups, Jamal Crawford and Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said: 

Jamal Crawford

 “I played with Jason two years in Atlanta. One of the best teammates, he’s always been professional. He’s actually one of the reasons why we beat Orlando [in the playoffs] my second year there because we didn’t have to double team and he did a good job on Dwight [Howard] and we took away their shooters. I think [Collins] is very courageous and I’m very proud of him.”

“I think everyone has their own personal life. Everybody goes home to their families and that’s their life. When you’re on the court [basketball is] all you’re thinking about.”

Grant Hill

 “I’m not surprised that someone has come out. I’m very happy for Jason. I think it’s probably got to be liberating. He’s got to be able to feel free to get that out and not have to hide it for as long as he has. I think it will be interesting to see the response, if [Collins] wants to continue to play. I hope he does play, if he still wants to. It took a lot of courage and it’s very brave and I’m happy for him.”

“The landscape has changed and it’s more acceptable now. In society in general, I don’t know if in sports. But I think that is certainly changing. And it will definitely help that he was brave enough to be the first athlete to do it.”

Chauncey Billups

 “I’m proud of him. I’m proud that he’s able to feel comfortable in his own skin and be who he is and be comfortable enough to come out. Now, I’m pretty sure he feels free and feels like he can live a little bit.”

“It didn’t really matter to me which sport it was. I’m more proud that he had the courage to do it. With the media today and social media and things like that and all the different outlets just having that courage is commendable.”

Vinny Del Negro

“I think it’s everyone’s personal decision. He’s been in the league a long time and that’s the way he wanted to handle it. But everyone’s personality and everyone’s situation is a little bit different, but if it makes him happy and it makes him comfortable then I applaud him for having the courage to come out the way he is."