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Former Jason Collins coach Doc Rivers states support, references Jackie Robinson

Apr 29, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

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In the middle of last season, the Boston Celtics traded Jason Collins to the Washington Wizards as part of the Jordan Crawford deal. But it wasn’t a move the Celtics wanted to make — they fought to hold on to Collins until it became clear the deal would fall apart without him in it (credit Marc Stein of ESPN).

But Doc Rivers is a big supporter of Collins and said so in a statement he issued on Monday:

“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collin. He’s a pro’s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite “team” players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be its not up to you, it’s just me being me.”

In general that has been the reaction of players, who are of a younger generation (and nationally polling data has shown younger generations are more accepting of a gay or lesbian lifestyle, and the NBA is made up of young players). Coaches will come at it the way Rivers does: “Can he help me win? Is he good in the locker room?”

But good for Rivers for stepping up.

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