One day after becoming the first openly gay active male athlete in major American pro sports, Jason Collins sat down with TNT's "Inside the NBA" to discuss his monumental announcement, the decision-making process behind it and how it felt to wake up Tuesday morning and, in the words of host Ernie Johnson, "not have anything to hide."
"It was amazing," the 12-year NBA veteran said. "It was a truly overwhelming experience — humbling, the amount of support I received. I'm truly blessed to have the people that I have [who] have my back, and just support me and lift me up."
Collins told Johnson, Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal about a variety of topics, including coming out to his twin brother Jarron ("It was, uh, an interesting conversation"), whether he thinks his announcement will have an impact on other sports and leagues ("I hope it will encourage others to live an honest and genuine life [...] it's important for everybody to make decisions in their life that makes them happy and to be honest") and how long he wrestled with the decision to make his sexual orientation public.
"It took me a while," he said. "It was a process. But I knew that going through last season, that I wasn't going to keep living my life in the closet. I knew that once my regular season ended with the Washington Wizards, that after the season was over, I was going to make this announcement and also tell everybody, you know, I can still play in this league. I want to still play in this league. I still have a love for the game, and I still feel that I can offer an NBA ball club that veteran leadership. And I think I've proven by doing this that not only will I talk the talk, but I'll walk the walk, and I think everybody in the league respects that."
Collins credited his agent, Arn Tellem, for both overcoming his own hesitations about the veteran center coming out and enabling him to tell his story his way, and discussed the experience of preparing for the naysayers who wouldn't support his announcement.
"I say, let my career — and, more importantly, my teams that I've played for, my teams, my coaches, my professional conduct, my work ethic — let that be what does the loudest talking for me," Collins said.
Collins also sat down for an in-depth interview with Grantland's Bill Simmons, in which he talked about receiving calls from several surprising sources, including former star point guard Tim Hardaway (who expressed "hate" for gay people after former NBA center John Amaechi came out in 2007, but has since become an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community).
He also elaborates on the performative flair, dunking ability and "low-budget Mark Madsen" game of his former high-school teammate, actor Jason Segel: