South Florida Reacts to NBA Player Jason Collins’ Coming Out
Just mere minutes after a Sports Illustrated article in which Washington Wizards center Jason Collins announced he’s gay, the reactions of people in and out of the sports circles started to pour in. Local organizations and athletes chimed in as well, expressing their support and lack of understanding about Collins’ coming out.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace tweeted and then deleted his thoughts on the matter: “All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys,” Wallace wrote. His words prompted Miami LGBT advocacy group SAVE Dade to call Wallace’s comments “a sad moment and a huge disappointment for Miami-Dade residents” and asked the Miami Dolphins for an apology.
For its part, the Dolphins responded saying Wallace has apologized for his comments and assured they have addressed the matter with him.
“Mike’s comments do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins,” the team said in a statement. “We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization.”
Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBT rights organization, issued a statement calling Wallace’s comments “insensitive” and saying they hope Collins’ announcement leads the NBA to set a higher standard for supporting athletes who come out.
“Jason’s announcement is particularly important to LGBT youth and sends a message that they can grow up to be anything in this world, including a sports star,” Equality Florida’s statement read. “And when we speak out to support Jason, we send a message to those same youth that the world is ready to support them.”
Collins’ peers inside the basketball world have, for the most part, been completely behind the 12-year veteran.
Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld issued this statement:
“We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly. He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.”
Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant also tweeted his support.
“Proud of [Jason Collins]. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others,” he tweeted.
Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 29, 2013
Lakers’ legend Irving “Magic” Johnson, whose son Earvin Johnson III is openly gay, also reached out to Collins.
“Jason Collins has announced that he is gay. I know Jason and his family well and I support him 100%,” Magic tweeted.
Jason Collins has announced that he is gay. I know Jason and his family well and I support him 100%.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Collin’s only professional critic seems to be ESPN sports analyst Chris Broussard. On ESPN’s program, Outside” The Lines,” Broussard said Collins was “walking in open rebellion to God” by saying he was a Christian and gay.
“If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits,” Broussard said. “It says that, you know, that’s a sin. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
Super Bowl champion and Fort Lauderdale resident Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is working with Equality Florida to help advance marriage equality in Florida, issued a statement through Athlete Ally where he applauded Collins’ decision saying he is “paving the way for a more accepting and welcoming environment in the world of professional sports.”
“I hope that Collins’ decision to go public with this news will make all people feel comfortable enough to follow in his footsteps,” Ayanbadejo said. “I look forward to meeting Jason Collins and working with him in the future.”
Collins’ interview with Sports Illustrated hits newsstands next week.
WATCH: Chris Broussard’s comments about Jason Collins via ThinkProgress