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Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin among those supporting Jason Collins

Nets' Jason Kidd and Jason Collins react as

Nets' Jason Kidd and Jason Collins react as the buzzer sounds before Washington Wizards Darius Songaila, left, could take a shot during the fourth quarter in East Rutherford, N.J. (Nov. 8, 2007) Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Jason Kidd, who dressed in the same NBA locker room with Jason Collins for more than six seasons when they were both New Jersey Nets, does not anticipate that anyone should have an issue being a teammate of Collins now that he has revealed he is gay.

"I think it shouldn't be a problem," Kidd, now a Knicks point guard, said after practice Tuesday. "You just have to go watch Jackie Robinson and what he went through as a player and I think everyone will be fine with it."

Kidd's comments came several hours after ABC's "Good Morning America" aired an interview with Collins. Collins, who revealed he was gay in a first-person article posted on Sports Illustrated's website Monday, told George Stephanopoulos that he has received incredible support during the past 24 hours, including a phone call from President Barack Obama.

"I think, I know, in my personal life, I'm ready and I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player," Collins said.

Kidd called Collins a "good friend" and said that Collins called him Monday morning to talk about what he was doing. Kidd said he was "caught off guard" by the news, but fully supported Collins' decision.

"He is a true professional on and off the court, and it takes a lot of courage to do what he did," Kidd said. "It's just going to make the world a better place."

Knicks coach Mike Woodson coached Collins for one season in Atlanta and said he spoke to his former center Monday.

"I have the utmost respect for him," Woodson said. "He played hard for me and the decision that he made, we have to live with. That's his personal life, and life goes on."

Knicks forward Kenyon Martin, who also was Collins' teammate on the Nets, called him "a brave man" for coming forward.

"I commend him for having the courage to do it," Martin said. "That is a man's personal life, so if that is what he chooses to do, I'm all for it."

When asked what kind of reception he thought Collins might get from future teammates and opponents, Martin said he could speak only for himself.

"I have no problem with it," he said. "He was my friend before and he will still be my friend. He was a great teammate, helped us get to two Finals. It's huge for him to take this stand. Like he said in the article, somebody had to be the one to raise the hand. And he was the first to do it, so you have to take your hat off to him."

Carmelo Anthony never played with Collins but has faced him a number of times in his 10-year career. Anthony likened Collins to a pioneer, saying he believes other players will now be more inclined to come out.

"It takes [guts] to do that, especially in the society we live in, knowing everyone is going to have something to say," Anthony said. "To step up to the plate and do that, I'm pretty sure that opens the floodgates for a lot of other people."

Touching tribute. The mother of a gay University of Wyoming student who was robbed and beaten to death in 1998 says she finds it touching that Collins honored her son by wearing jersey No. 98.

"We're very touched that he regards Matthew as somebody special," Judy Shepard said in a telephone interview. "We're especially happy that now he feels free to be himself.''

While Collins hid his sexual orientation, he said he quietly made a statement for gay rights by wearing No. 98 with the Celtics and Wizards. The number refers to 1998, the year Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence and beaten outside Laramie. Shepard died Oct. 12, 1998, and two men were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.-- AP

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