Doc Rivers voices support for Jason Collins
Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows personally what a good guy Jason Collins is. He coached the NBA player for 32 games this season before Collins was traded from the Celtics to the Wizards. By now, everyone knows Collins as the first male athlete to come out in any major professional American league, and Rivers told Sports Illustrated how hard it was too see Collins leave his team.
“He is terrific,” Rivers told SI on Monday. “Losing him was hard for me because I just thought he was such a great teammate and such a great guy in the locker room. That’s what you want is those guys in your locker room.
“He just was honest. He was an honest teammate. He worked hard. He did anything you asked him to do. He accepted his role.”
The coach equated Collins’ role as a trailblazer to those who have come before him, like what Jackie Robinson was to race in pro sports. We think nothing of the many difference races that make up our professional teams today, and hopefully someday in the future we’ll have the same mindset when it comes to sexuality.
“After watching the movie about Jackie Robinson you learn that there were some teammates who didn’t want Jackie, then they kind of learned to understand he was good; and then no one cared,” said Rivers. “But more important, what you learn from that movie, 42, it wasn’t his teammates as much as I thought it was — it was the fans. So I don’t think this will be a teammate thing. I think eventually it will be a thing where fans will learn to be more tolerant.
“Then it will go away. You rarely hear any racial slurring in the crowd anymore, but you did — you used to when Jackie first played. But it went away. I think it will be the same in this case.”
Rivers also said he hoped Collins’ courageous move would start to change things in the NBA when it comes to the relevance of players’ sexuality.
“I never gave it a thought, I could care less,” said Rivers. “Every once in awhile you would hear about it from a player or a coach, but listen to me — I was brought up better than that. I don’t care. It never registered. I could care less. Why do so many people care? It’s no one’s business what you do. I’ve always felt that way and I’ve always had a strong belief about that — that it’s your preference, and so what? You can like who you choose to like, and you can love who you choose to love. That’s the way it should be. The thing that should be celebrated is that two people love each other, and that’s a good thing.”
“It’s funny, in some ways I’m happy for Jason,” said Rivers. “I can’t imagine trying to be something, and then try to be something else. I’m happy for him.”