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Who deserves the most credit for the Kings likely staying in Sacramento?

Leading Off: Why didn't Collins raise his hand earlier?

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013 - 8:19 am

No question, it took tremendous courage and character for Jason Collins on Monday to reveal that he is the first "active" gay professional male athlete.

Can you imagine what it was like for him to go to sleep Sunday night, knowing his world would change forever by sunrise?

But with all due respect to Collins, this disclosure would have had much more impact had he made it years ago – in the prime of his career with the New Jersey Nets – or at least at the start of this past season with the Boston Celtics.

Instead, Collins decided to raise his hand and "start the conversation" in the twilight of his career, and the news of his coming out of the closet may have shut the door behind him.

The former Stanford star is 34 years old and has played 12 NBA seasons as a 7-foot center. He has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds – but only 1.7 points and 2.4 rebounds since 2007, mostly as a reserve for five teams.

Now he's a free agent without a team. He has no teammates to answer questions from and no fans to thank for their support or stand tall in front of while being criticized.

To truly be the first "active" gay male athlete, he must convince a general manager to sign him for the veteran minimum – approximately $1.3 million. And that general manager must decide if his "last-off-the-bench" statistics are worth the possible distractions in the locker room or circus-like attention from the media.

It's doubtful Collins will play another NBA game.

So we continue to wait for that watershed moment when a young professional athlete – maybe even an all-star – stands in the middle of a locker room in front of his teammates and says, "I'm gay."

What to watch

Baseball, Giants at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m., CSNBA: Madison Bumgarner goes for his fourth victory of the season.

Today's poll

Who deserves the most credit for the Kings likely staying in Sacramento?

• Kevin Johnson

• Vivek Ranadive

• David Stern

• Investment group

• Other(s)

Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field; or go to

Monday's results

Which sport does Sacramento identify itself with most?

• Baseball: 26%

• Basketball: 63%

• Football: 6%

• Other: 5%

Total votes: 574

Call The Bee's Victor Contreras, (916) 326-5527. Follow him on Twitter @SacBeeVictor.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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