Active players posted their approval on Twitter. The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant said: "Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others." Steve Nash, also a Laker, said: "The time has come. Maximum respect."
Two Wizards players, Garrett Temple and Bradley Beal, said in tweets they were "proud" of Collins. "Much respect to my teammate," Temple said. "Great teammate, mentor and better person," said Beal.
Collins' announcement comes after the end of the Wizards' season, and he is no longer under contract. He is an "old" player by NBA standards who has never been a star. So will he play in the NBA this fall?
ESPN.com said only six of 14 team officials reached for an unofficial poll Monday thought he would be back in the league. If he does return, he probably will play only a few minutes a game for a team that needs a veteran leader, the other executives told ESPN.com.
Some male athletes have come out as gay after they've left professional sports. One is John Amaechi, a former NBA player.
Amaechi told CNN he hopes Collins will be a catalyst for a wider acceptance of openly gay athletes, saying he believes Collins is better equipped than anyone who came before him to handle the attention that will come his way. But it may take more, Amaechi said.
People like to believe one iconic figure can change things, he said, "but the reality is that when there's this tipping point, or enough people coming together deciding that change is necessary, that's when change happens."
The Women's National Basketball Association, the women's pro league, has had its share of milestones and openness as far as gays are concerned. In 2005, Sheryl Swoopes, a top player in the WNBA, announced she was gay.
Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in this year's WNBA draft, recently said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that she is gay. Griner finished her college career as the NCAA's all-time leading shot-blocker with 748 and as the No. 2 all-time scorer with 3,283 points.