Transcript: George Stephanopoulos Interviews Jason Collins After Becoming First Openly Gay NBA Player


Jason Collins on His Critics

STEPHANOPOULOS: So all of a sudden you're a trail blazer.

COLLINS: All of a sudden I'm being honest, completely honest. That's how I look at it. I know that, yes -- yes, it affects other people's lives but for me it's just you try to do the right thing in life and you try to be genuine. And that's how I look at it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's going to make you a role model.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But also a target.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Broussard today says he doesn't consider you a Christian because you're living in unrepentant sin.

COLLINS: I am a Christian. I will state that very proudly. My grandmother has made sure that both my brother and myself and obviously my parents too grew up with strong Christian values. And to this day I read a prayer booklet every single day. It's called "The Daily Word." [LAUGHTER] And [it] gives you a nice story and a scripture every single day. But, look. I know that my decision to come forward and tell my story isn't going to make everyone happy. And--


COLLINS: I'm being honest, so if that means that I'm upsetting people, there are a lot of other people in this world are being completely honest and you can't please everyone. You just try to live your life by your values and go about your business.

I've been booed before on an NBA court. And, trust me, there have been times I wanted to boo myself. But everybody's entitled -- this is America. It's the greatest country on the Earth. Everyone's entitled to their own opinions and beliefs.

Whereas I respect everyone's opinion and belief it doesn't mean I agree with everyone. And that doesn't mean everyone's going to agree with me. So I'll be happy to have a discussion if he wants to -- or if anyone wants to, but at the same point-- at the same time I'm not going to be up in your face about it. And, you know, it's my private life and I'd like to keep as much--

STEPHANOPOULOS: You write, though, that if you come up against an intolerant player you're going to set a hard pick.

COLLINS: …. There are ways on a baseball court that you can get your point across without saying words. And it's part of the game. That's why you wear a mouthpiece. That's why you tape your wrists, tape your ankles or whatever. And you dust yourself up and dust yourself off and get back up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This whole issue of privacy, though, does become so central because you've chosen to come out publicly. Yet, you and everyone else has the right to a private life. How do you think about that?

COLLINS: I think that in time I won't be the only one. And -- in time -- I mean the next person has to be a better player.

(LAUGHTER) No, I'm kidding. ….The next person will garner that attention and the spotlight will die down a bit. And you go back and you get in your routine of your private life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Phil Jackson says he's never met a gay player in the NBA. Have you?

COLLINS: Not that I know of. I don't know of any other gay players in the NBA. We don't talk about that. But as far as he's definitely coached against one. His team swept us in the finals, unfortunately. He did have Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neill, so that kind of helped his team.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Kobe Bryant tweeted that he was proud of you today too.

COLLINS: That was incredible. All the support has been overwhelming.


COLLINS: Yeah, a bit. I'm kind of a pragmatist. I try to be -- I don't know -- an optimistic pragmatist. (LAUGHTER) And, you hope for the best, but not even in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine the support that I've received from my teammates, coaches, the front office staff, trainers.

Everybody from every part of the NBA family, starting with David Stern and Adam Silver, and then going down even to my rookie in Washington, Bradley Beal, the support has been incredible. And that's just in the realm of basketball and sports. And then you go out from there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Throw in a couple presidents. Yeah.

COLLINS: You throw in a couple presidents and Oprah and all of a sudden you've got yourself a nice pie. No, I'm just kidding. (LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you know, you want to start a conversation. And it's clear that you're at ease with your decision at this point. But what's the most uncomfortable part of the conversation?

COLLINS: Just how it affects my family. You know, I can take all the hits in the world. I feel that I'm strong enough and, like I said, I've been booed by over 18,000 people. You know? I can take all the hits. But when it affects my family, I think that's like most people, don't go there. That's the one major drawback, is how this affects-- if there's any kind of negative effect on my family.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There hasn't been any yet?

COLLINS: No. No. There's been incredible just support and to the point where I mentioned that my aunt is a judge. And her courtroom today was so packed with media that she had to do sort of an impromptu press conference during lunchtime. So they can get back to the business of court.

So it's kind of incredible, the response. I'm very proud of not only my teammates, but my coaches, friends. I mean just random people just come up and they shake your hand and they say thank you with a special way. And I'm-- I'm just-- it's-- you know, it touches you. And you just feel honored and humbled.

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