Heat players reflect on Jason Collins
Will Openly Gay Athletes Get Support?
MIAMI -- Ray Allen said he doesn't expect the NBA's locker room environment to change much in light of Jason Collins' becoming the first active player in North America's four major professional sports to announce he is gay.
Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran, came out in a cover story for this week's Sports Illustrated, and has received widespread support and encouragement from other athletes, sports executives, celebrities and at least two United States presidents.
Allen said Tuesday that NBA locker rooms are full of good-natured ribbing and that he doesn't expect that line to move.
"We say some terrible things at times to each other and we laugh about it," said Allen, who is in his first season with the Miami Heat and has played for three other teams in his 17-year career. "That's just a way of expressing how we love each other as brothers.
"I don't think that changes. The fodder that goes on with each other will always exist."
The Heat's roster is about as diverse as any in the NBA, with players from different backgrounds, races and experiences. The mix ranges from LeBron James and Rashard Lewis, who both entered the NBA directly out of high school, to several four-year college graduates.
The personalities stretch from the always polished and politically connected Shane Battier to the colorfully tattooed Chris "Birdman" Andersen. But Allen, 38, said there's a fair amount of jocularity on and off the court they all are subjected to when they're around each other.
"Regardless of what somebody's orientation is, what ethnicity they are or where they come from, it's a way of how we bond and how we speak to each other," Allen said. "You say something nasty to somebody in our locker room, between us, we laugh about it and we throw it right back at them. That's just part of who we are as a team."
James said he applauds Collins for taking a "noble" and "strong" stand. He also said Collins should ultimately be judged by how well he helps his team on the court and not by the way he lives his life outside of basketball.
"None of us should go around wondering about what other people think we should be," James said after Tuesday's practice. "I think it's very strong of [Collins]. I've got the utmost respect for Jason. If you can play the game, then that's all that matters at the end of the day."
Chris Bosh told reporters Tuesday that Collins wouldn't be treated any differently than any other player on Miami's team if he were signed to the roster next season.
"I don't think you have to go out of your way -- just treat him normal," Bosh said. "He's a human being, and it's not like he has two heads or anything. Same dude."
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