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Jason Collins, NBA's first openly gay player, retires

Jason Collins of the Brooklyn Nets speaks to

Jason Collins of the Brooklyn Nets speaks to the media as he announces his retirement before a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jason Kidd helped out Jason Collins, so he wanted to return the favor on a night he figured Kidd needed all the positive assistance he could get.

Collins, who became the first openly gay athlete to play in any of the country's four major professional sports leagues when he suited up for the Nets last season, said he knew during the summer that he was ready to retire. But in looking at the calendar and seeing he'd be in town at the same time as Kidd's Bucks, Collins decided yesterday would be the perfect time to officially make the announcement after 13 seasons in the NBA.

"Sure, I'll be a little bit of a peacemaker. Sure," Collins said with a laugh, no doubt appreciative that Kidd brought him on board with the Nets in February in the historic move. "Obviously, J-Kidd is a great human being. Much of my career I owe to him. A great point guard can make a big man look a lot better than he is."

Always one of his biggest supporters, Kidd lauded Collins' career and praised his basketball I.Q.

"[Collins] is a role model for a lot of people throughout this country," Kidd said. "So to have him around last year, not just as the person but also understanding he knew how to play the game of basketball . . . 'Twin' wasn't one that jumped and touched the top of the backboard, but he knew to be how to be a pro."

Collins plans to continue working with various LGBT organizations, and will forever be known as a sports pioneer. He also hopes he's remembered for something else: doing the little things for the betterment of one common team goal. "Playing 13 years in the league, people will slap different labels on you," he said. "First and foremost, I always want my legacy to be known as a great teammate, someone who always sacrificed for the team."

New York Sports