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Thursday, May 15, 2014
Jason Collins open to what's next

By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With the Brooklyn Nets eliminated from the playoffs by the Miami Heat, Jason Collins' historic season has ended.

Collins became the first openly gay athlete in North America's four major professional sports when he signed with the Nets in late February.

The Nets' 7-foot center said he is unsure what's next for his basketball future.

Jason Collins
Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in North America's four major professional sports this season.

"With regards to basketball, I don't know right now," Collins said as the Nets gathered for exit interviews at the team's facility. "I am looking forward to enjoying this time with my loved ones, my family and friends and meeting a lot of great people over the summer and the next couple of months and enjoying my offseason."

Collins, 35, played in 22 games after joining the team following the All-Star break. He averaged 1.1 points in 7.8 minutes.

When Collins reflected on his season, the center said he really only experienced one encounter with an opposing player who said something to him about his orientation. At the time, Collins referred to the unnamed player as a "knucklehead" in the New York Daily News.

"I wouldn't even call it a negative," he said on Thursday when asked if that was the only negative encounter he had during the season. "He stated an opinion and that was it. This is America, everybody is entitled to their opinion and that was it."

Collins said he did not hear any taunts from fans or any other opponents.

"Not that I can think of," Collins said. "I try to focus on control what you can control. That is what I kind of live by. So I didn't really put any expectation on what to expect from fans or this and that. You just try to deal with each situation and keep that poise and posture about yourself."

Head coach Jason Kidd made a big push within the organization to sign his former New Jersey Nets teammate.

"It was the right thing to do," Kidd said. "It's about basketball, it's about his makeup of what he brings to the table as a person. A great guy in the locker room, toughness, understanding how to play the game, being able to help so many guys."

Now that Collins is a role model, he hopes to use his stature to help numerous charities and organizations.

"My goal right now is to empower others," Collins said. "And also support those who (are) like Derrick Gordon, Michael Sam, Robbie Rogers, and over the next months, couple of years, whoever else joins that list of out/active players."