Washington Wizards center Jason Collins made a groundbreaking announcement on Monday as he became the first athlete in major American team sports to come out as gay. There has been no shortage of opinions on the matter, including reaction from TNT's "Inside the NBA" crew with Charles Barkley.
Barkley was especially supportive of Collins' decision and had plenty of interesting things to say regarding his status. While Barkley doesn't believe that it's anyone's business what Collins' sexual orientation is, he said that he is happy for Collins.
Barkley also said that he believes that gay players have been in the NBA for years, but Collins is the first one to make it known.
"I've said this many times, we've all played with gay players," said Sir Charles.
At the same time, Barkley was very diplomatic in his approach. While he expressed unwavering support for Collins, he also admitted that there are people who may not like Collins' choice. While he doesn't agree with the detractors, he doesn't feel as though they should be dismissed.
"People should be able to disagree if they don't like it and not get crucified," he said.
Kenny Smith was similarly supportive and discussed why his race would make it hypocritical for him to not accept and stand by Collins in the aftermath of his announcement.
"As an African American I could never, ever discredit inclusion because that's the one thing that we always wanted," said Smith.
Collins specifically mentioned Shaquille O'Neal in the article that will be published in the next edition of Sports Illustrated. As a 12-year veteran of the NBA, Collins and O'Neal went head-to-head on many occasions, and Shaq has nothing but respect for Collins and his lifestyle.
"I've always liked his character," Shaq said. "Character is found in those who lead. I commend you, Jason, for coming out and showing us what leadership looks like."
It isn't uncommon for Barkley, Smith and O'Neal to disagree on certain matters, but it is clear that they are all on the same page when it comes to Collins. All of them support the decision and are hopeful that it will lead to more openness in the NBA moving forward.
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