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Miami Heat players support gay colleague Jason Collins

BY JOSEPH GOODMAN, JGOODMAN@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Heat players offered support for Jason Collins and championed him as a pioneer on Tuesday, one day after the 12-year NBA veteran announced he was gay.

With the Heat in a holding pattern until the second round, questions about Collins and his first-person story for SI.com dominated the post-practice media availability at AmericanAirlines Arena. Collins, 34, is the first openly gay male athlete in a major American professional sport to reveal his sexuality while still an active player.

“I think it’s very noble on his part,” LeBron James said. “I think it’s a strong thing to do, and I think as NBA players, we all offer him our support.”

Collins, in a powerful piece for Sports Illustrated, wrote: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

News of the story carried beyond the realm of sports Monday with President Barack Obama calling Collins to tell him he “couldn’t be prouder of him,” Obama said during a news conference on Tuesday. Obama added that gays and lesbians deserve “not just tolerance but recognition that they’re fully a part of the American family.”

The Heat’s players echoed those words, with Chris Andersen perhaps being the most vocally supportive, calling it a “historical moment” if it “encourages others to step up and say this is how they feel and this is who they are then more power to them.”

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