King, Lopez, Johnson praise Jason Collins

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King commended former Net Jason Collins for becoming the first active player in a major American team sport to announce that he's gay.

"Jason Collins was a vital member of the New Jersey Nets for six-and-a-half years, and as an executive with a competing NBA team, I always respected the standard he set for team play and the example he set for the league in playing with integrity and purpose," King said in a statement released by the Nets.

"He exemplifies everything we look for in players, and for those players and associates within our organization, our primary focus is creating the most accepting and respectful environment for everyone to succeed."

Collins played for the Nets from 2001-08 and was a member of the franchise's back-to-back NBA Finals teams in 2002-03.

A pair of current Nets players also praised Collins.

"It is an honor for me to call Jason Collins a friend," said Brook Lopez, who attended Collins' alma mater, Stanford. "I admire his dignity as well as his courage to come out. I'll always have his back."

"Jason Collins was one of the best teammates I've ever had," said Joe Johnson, who played with Collins for three seasons in Atlanta. "I respect his tremendous courage to come out and will always support him."

Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo was asked if the NBA is better equipped to handle Collins' coming out now than it would've been a decade ago.

“I just think the NBA reflects society and I think society hopefully is a lot more mature or accepting or ready for acting the way we should act right now," Carlesimo said. "That implies we weren’t ready in '03. I don’t know if it happened in '03 if it would have been any different.

"I think it’s great that Jason did it. It’s extremely courageous on his part, but I think the NBA will react very, very well. We’re only a tiny part, but I think they will react very, very well. I don’t know if I could say, ‘Oh god, I’m glad this didn’t happen in '03, we wouldn’t have been ready then.' I think we very well could have been then. I hope that we would react even better than the rest of society. We’re a little bit part of society but given the family aspect and what we all do together every year, I think we could handle it a lot better."

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