NBA Q&A With Jason Collins: Coaches, Career And Future


Free agent big man Jason Collins talks with Evan Caulfield of about becoming the NBA’s first gay active player, his experience playing with the Brooklyn Nets and much more.

Q: Over the years you’ve played for great coaches like Doc Rivers, Byron Scott and Randy Wittman. Who was the best coach to work with and why?

More from Sir Charles In Charge

Jason Collins: I’ve been very fortunate to work with a lot of great coaches. If I had to pick one it would have to be Doc Rivers. Doc has a masterful way of running not just the team, but the entire organization. And he really gets everybody to buy in, he knows how to talk with different players, he knows how to be a great leader and how to coach people into great leaders. I think it was really on display for the way he handled the whole Donald Sterling Clippers situation. They were still able to get through that tough series with Golden State and Doc the whole time was the one who stepped up for the Clippers organization and not only led the players but the fans as well. He’s really just a Hall of Famer and in a special class.

Q: What was some advice or guidance he gave you during your days with Boston?

Jason Collins: He really not only gave me guidance as a player, but guidance as a man and a human being. Again it just goes back to leadership. He would always use that one line if you want to go somewhere fast, you better go by yourself. But if you want to go farther you got to go as a group. He also talked about how leadership sometimes can be the hardest position on the team. He would say how leaders sometimes are lonely because you have to hold people accountable. Sometimes you have to say or do something that is in the best interest of the group, even if maybe at the time not everyone sees it that way. But as a leader your perspective is different than others. When he said that line about being a leader, it really helped me with everything I was going through and when I was obviously still in the closet. I was really just waiting for somebody else to you know, do it, to be the first. But I just got so tired of waiting and I reached a point in my life when I was ready. And now finally other people are coming out and living authentic lives, so it’s just inspiring to see that my actions have encouraged others to be happier and live an authentic life.

Q: For you, who was toughest player to match up against over the course of your career and why?

Jason Collins: Definitely Shaq, especially when he was with the Lakers. Playing against him in his prime with the Lakers man. He was big, strong, talented, skilled, basically every attribute you could think of for an NBA center. There were some points in my career, when I was giving up 70 to 80 pounds to him. So I had to figure out how do I stay successful at my job. Matching up against him in the Finals my rookie year, and just matching up against him in general was a major challenge. And as a professional athlete, I loved challenges .He was the biggest, best challenge out there.

Q: What was your approach or strategy when you were defending him? Like you said, you were almost 80 pounds less than him, so what was key in remaining effective?

Jason Collins: You just had to remain physical with him and try to establish position . If he hits you in the chest or swings and hits you with an elbow somewhere, you just fall down and try to draw a foul. Sometimes you really just had to dig in your feet, hold your ground and just hope you could hold him back.

Q: How do you think Jason Kidd did as a first-year head coach with the Nets?

Jason Collins: I think he’s a great coach. He won the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month twice, so for him to do that in his rookie year shows he has a chance to be very special. He does a great job working with young guards, breaking down tape and always tells us to take a picture and ask ourselves what we see here. Showing people to read the play, like when the defense is trying to take away something it means that there still has to be something open. He really just tries to get his players to think about the game.

Q: So there’s been reports that you’re still undecided about your future. Have you given any consideration about potentially playing one more season or are you still undecided at this point?

Jason Collins: No I’m still on the fence. I’m sorta thinking that when Ray Allen makes a decision, I’ll make a decision. Just kidding [laughs] but you know, I’ve had a very good 13 year career. Father time is undefeated against every professional athlete, so I’m still going back and forth at this point.

Q: Now lets just pretend sometime tomorrow morning LeBron James gives you a call and says he wants you to be Cleveland’s backup big man. Would that be enough to convince you to play one more season?

Jason Collins: [Laughs]. Okay. If that were to happen, then I would say lets get back on the horse one last time.