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Jason Collins' goal is to 'empower others' regardless of future with Nets

The Nets' Jason Collins appears during a news

The Nets' Jason Collins appears during a news conference at the PNY Center in East Rutherford, N.J. on Thursday May 15, 2014. Credit: Brian Branch Price

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jason Collins did not retire from playing pro basketball Thursday, but he sounded a lot like a man ready to move on to bigger things in life.

When asked about his future, the veteran center said, "With regards to basketball, I don't know right now."

He said he would spend the summer with family and friends and "meeting a lot of great people," and acknowledged that the circle of people he might meet has expanded since he became the first openly gay player in the NBA.

"My goal right now is to empower others," he said, "and also support those who, like Derrick Gordon, Michael Sam, Robbie Rogers, and over the next months, couple of years, whoever else joins that list of out/active players."

Collins, 35, spoke the day after the end of a Nets season in which he made only modest on-court contributions in 22 regular-season games and did not play at all in 12 playoff games.

But even though he believes he showed he still can perform in the NBA, he said, "Right now I am not focusing on that. There are so many other things that I want to do, most importantly being with my loved ones."

He listed several organizations he hopes to work with, "and also texting and calling with the other guys. We are all sort of like a fraternity, just to support each other and encourage each other to keep going."

Collins said the "whole experience has been very humbling," including being included on Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list.

"I'm very honored to be mentioned with some very prestigious people," he said. "I just try to live my life as authentically as I can and encourage others to do the same."

Collins could recall only one negative comment from an opponent, whom he declined to name. "He stated an opinion and that was it. This is America; everybody is entitled to their opinion and that was it."

What would coach Jason Kidd, Collins' old teammate and friend, remember most about the Nets signing him? Said Kidd: "It was the right thing to do."

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