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Celtics applaud Collins' decision

Jason Collins, right, battling Kings forward Chuck Hayes for the ball, played 32 games with the Celtics before being traded.

Associated Press

Jason Collins, right, battling Kings forward Chuck Hayes for the ball, played 32 games with the Celtics before being traded.

WALTHAM, Mass. — Celtics coach Doc Rivers wishes Jason Collins had gotten more rebounds. Jeff Green liked the screens his former teammate set. Jason Terry would love to have Collins' toughness in the playoffs.

And they're all happy for Collins after he came out as gay.

None of the Celtics expressed concern Tuesday about having been on the same team as a gay player. They did care about what he did to help Boston win games and about how he might help other gay athletes.

"There are so many professional athletes, there are so many human beings that live a dark life, that are scared to expose it because of the exposure of sports and what people may think about them," Paul Pierce said. "I think what he did was a great thing just to open the door for a number of athletes who probably now are going to have the courage to come out."

Rivers said Collins told him he was gay "a couple of days" before his announcement Monday on Sports Illustrated's website.

"I don't know if (I was) surprised, or really didn't care one way or the other," Rivers said. "It's a nonfactor to me. And I know it is a factor to a lot of people. I just have never understood why anyone cares about what someone else does.

"He told me he was coming out and I told him, 'Great, you know, good. Let's move forward.' And I jokingly said, 'I wish you could have gotten me more rebounds,' because that's all I care about."

The 7-foot Collins played 32 games for the Celtics in his only season with them. He averaged 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.3 minutes. They traded him Feb. 21 to Washington, his sixth team in 12 seasons.

Now he's a free agent. Some Celtics said they'd like to have him back next season.

"Most definitely," Green said. "He was an awesome teammate. He played the game hard. He set good screens to get me open. That's all you can ask for."

Elsewhere:

• The mother of a gay University of Wyoming student who was robbed and beaten to death in 1998 said she found it touching that Collins honored her son by wearing jersey No. 98.

Matthew Shepard's mother, Judy, said that she hadn't known about Collins' tribute. Collins had quietly made a statement for gay rights by wearing No. 98 with the Celtics and the Wizards. The number refers to 1998, the year Shepard was tied to a fence and beaten outside Laramie. Shepard, targeted because he was gay, died days later on Oct.  12.

• ESPN said that it regrets the "distraction" caused by one of its reporters who described Collins as a sinner. Chris Broussard, who covers the NBA for ESPN, had said on the air that Collins and others in the NBA who engage in premarital sex or adultery were "walking in open rebellion to God, and to Jesus Christ." Golfer Bubba Watson said he agreed with Broussard, tweeting that he appreciated Broussard sharing his faith and the Bible.

Celtics applaud Collins' decision 04/30/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:30am]

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