Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14
WALTHAM, Mass. — Shortly before Jason Collins went public with a historic announcement, he called one of his former coaches to give him the groundbreaking news everyone would know in a few hours: Collins is gay. On the phone with Doc Rivers, though, Collins was not able to give his message as easily and succinctly as he did in print. So, the Celtics coach interrupted him. “When he called to tell me, you could tell he wanted to tell me, and I told him before he said it: ‘Jason, I could care less what you’re about to tell me,’” Rivers said. “That’s how I feel. I honestly feel that way.” Rivers was one of the unanimous voices at Celtics practice on Tuesday to lend their support to Collins, who becomes the first male athlete in a major American sport to come out while he is still playing. In a short stint with the Celtics this season, Collins made an impression on his teammates and made some close friends, which is why two of the calls he made prior to the story breaking were to Rivers and Celtics captain Paul Pierce. Pierce will always have a connection with Collins for a gesture he made earlier this season. After Pierce scored 40 points in a win over the Cavs, he was awarded a rare game ball — which he promptly handed over to Collins, in recognition of the veteran big man’s screen-setting and defense. Collins was in awe. “It says a lot about the type of person that Paul is,” Collins said, “that he had a game like that, yet my teammates still appreciate what it is I do out there on the court.” Now, Pierce and Collins are linked again, and Collins learned more about the type of person Pierce is. Collins called Pierce on Monday morning, right before SI.com posted the story, and Pierce admitted he was surprised — not that there was now an active gay athlete, but that Collins was that gay athlete. Pierce said he and Rivers have talked before about how there would probably soon be an “out” athlete. He just never imagined it would be one of his former teammates. “To each his own,” Pierce said. “It’s probably going to open the door to many more. There’s so many professional athletes, there’s so many human begins, that are scared to expose it because of the exposure of sports and what people might think about it. But I think what he did was a great thing, just to kind of open the door for other athletes who probably now are going to have the courage to come out.” The biggest shock of all, for some people, might have been how blasé Rivers, Pierce and much of the NBA community have reacted to the news. The Celtics answered questions Tuesday about Collins, interspersed with more typical questions like their defensive adjustments against the Knicks. Collins being gay seemed as normal to them as the need to contain Carmelo Anthony in Game 5. Pierce and Rivers admired and respected Collins before. After placing two tough phone calls, Collins discovered that they still do. Collins may be changing a lot of people’s opinions, but between him, Rivers and Pierce, it appears nothing has changed. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Browns agree to three-year deal with Josh McCown

Peterson releases statement, no mention of the Vikings

Bulls general manager expects Derrick Rose back in 4-6 weeks

Ray Allen reportedly will not sign with Cavaliers if he returns

Shane Vereen squashes rumor he wants $5 million per season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jon Gruden on Meyer: 'Greatest coaching job of all time'

Vince Young to work out at NFL Veteran Combine

Report: Mike Wallace unwilling to restructure contract

Report: Colts targeting Brandon Marshall

Rakeem Christmas leads Syracuse in exercise of futility

Report: Phil Jackson to be fined for comments on college player

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

Pirates issue statement about ISIS executioner wearing team hat

WATCH: Dress debate threatens to derail Brooklyn Nets’ season

FIFA gave Fox the 2026 World Cup to avoid a lawsuit

WATCH: Charles Barkley rips analytics again

Dark horse World Series contenders in 2015

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to step up

Jon Stewart and Seth Rollins feud comes to a head(lock)

MLS must get labor deal done before embarking on new TV era

NASCAR driver's car stolen from hotel parking lot

WATCH: Herm Edwards breaks down infamous llama video

Rex Ryan has truck with Buffalo Bills paint scheme

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

WATCH: Barkley rips analytics again

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Five-round NFL Mock Draft

Key offseason moves for every MLB team

Rousey, Arianny Celeste get into it

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The parallels of Rose and Hardaway

Offseason breakdown for all 32 NFL teams

On Josh Hamilton's addiction and feeling alone

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.