GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Carmelo Anthony says it took great confidence for Jason Collins to come out as gay on Tuesday.
Except he didn’t exactly use the word confident.
“It takes big balls to do that, especially [in] the society that we live in, knowing that everybody gonna have something to say,” Anthony said Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Celtics at Madison Square Garden.
“So for him to step up to the plate and do that, I’m pretty sure that that opened the floodgates for a lot of other people.”
Collins on Monday became the first active athlete in the four major pro sports to come out.
“I’m just glad he came out,” Anthony said. “A secret like that can eat you alive. It sounds like from what I’m hearing in the interviews that he’s a free man now, he can sleep at night. He don’t have to worry about anything. I hope he just focuses on continuing to play basketball and just living life freely.”
Former Knick Larry Johnson, who now works for the organization, wasn’t as supportive on Twitter.
“Ppl ! this is nothing against Jason or homosexual’s,all I’m saying is this don’t belong in a man’s locker room,” he Tweeted.
He added: “I don’t judge anyone!! I have fallen short of the grace of Allah myself, but stop trying to make this acceptable.”
Jason Kidd, who played with Collins on the Nets in the early 2000s, said Collins notified him of the news on Monday.
“I was caught off guard,” Kidd said. “He called me in the morning [Monday] and wanted to talk to me about it. And I fully support his decision and I think everything will work itself out.
Kidd compared Collins to Jackie Robinson. While Robinson became the first African-American ever to play in Major League Baseball in 1947, Collins needs to be on an NBA roster next season to follow suit.
“I think it shouldn’t be a problem,” Kidd said of players accepting Collins in the locker room. “You just have to go watch Jackie Robinson and see what he went through as a player and I think everybody will be fine with it.”
Kenyon Martin, who also played with Collins on the Nets, said from a purely basketball standpoint, Collins deserved to play in the NBA next season.
“Definitely, definitely,” Martin said.
Asked if he thought Collins would be accepted, he said: “I can’t speak on nobody else. I only know the way I would treat him. I can’t speak on nobody else. I said he was my friend before, he’ll still be my friend.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson , who coached Collins in Atlanta, said he also spoke to him on Tuesday.
“I have the utmost respect for him,” he said. “He was a hard playeer for me and the decision that he made, we gotta live with it. I mean, that’s his personal life and life goes on, we gotta move on.
“It’s something we can’t hide. It’s out there. He was man enough to step forward to express his feelings about it, and hey, we all know now so hey, he’s gonna live his life and I gotta game to win tomorrow night here in New York.”