Kobe Bryant has added his name to the growing list of people queueing up to congratulate Jason Collins, following the 35-year-old becoming the first openly gay player to ever take to the court in the NBA.
The messages have been flooding in since Collins played his first game for the Brooklyn Nets, having been a free-agent following the announcement that he was gay at the end of last season.
And Bryant, who’s Los Angeles Lakers side were beaten 108-102 in the historic game on Sunday, endorsed Collins, and stated that he thought the 7ft tall center had done a tremendous amount for the sport by publicly coming out.
“His impact (Sunday night) is greater than what people think,” Bryant said on Sunday. “You look at it from the context of having the first openly gay player. But they missed the domino effect that it has way beyond sports,” Bryant said.
“There is a kid out there who … is going to say, ‘Jason gave me strength in dark moments to be brave. He gave me courage to step up and accept myself for who I am despite what others might be saying or the public pressures. He gave me strength and bravery to be myself.”
The addition of Bryant’s voice to those sounding the praises of Collins is significant, not only because of the Lakers man's status in the NBA, but because he is widely regarded as one of the top athletes in the world over the last decade.