Veteran NBA center Jason Collins, who briefly played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, says he's gay -- the first active professional major team sport athlete to do so.
Collins, 34, told Sports Illustrated: "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
Collins also thanked Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, writing that he's "impressed with the straight pro athletes who have spoken up so far."
Kluwe, according to an e-mail he sent to the Pioneer Press, congratulated Collins, saying, "I'm really happy for him ... no one should have to hide a core part of themselves."
Collins, who ended the 2012-13 season with the Washington Wizards, spent time in a Timberwolves uniform during the 2008-09 season, playing in 31 games.
NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement of support Monday, according to NBCSports.com.
In his words: "Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”