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Celtics laud Jason Collins, leave door open to return

Jason Collins was with the Celtics for the first half of the 2012-13 season.

AP

Jason Collins was with the Celtics for the first half of the 2012-13 season.

WALTHAM – Celtics players and coach Doc Rivers spoke in support of Jason Collins Tuesday after Collins revealed in Sports Illustrated on Monday that he was gay. Rivers said Collins called him a few days ago to share the news with his former coach.

“We had talked about it recently,” said Rivers. “When he called me to tell me, you could tell he wanted to tell me. I told him before he said it, ‘Jason I could care less about what you’re about to tell me.’ And that’s how I feel. I honestly feel that way.

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“It’s a non-factor to me, and I know it is a factor to a lot of people. I’ve never understood why anyone cares what someone else does. And I told Jason that it will be a non-issue eventually, but it will not be right now.”

Rivers said Collins, who played in 32 games for the Celtics this season before being traded to Washington for guard Jordan Crawford, was a good locker room presence. Rivers joked that he wished Collins could have gotten a few more rebounds while he was here. He left the door open to Collins returning to Boston next season.

“I was happy for him,” said Celtics forward Jeff Green. “He’s a good friend of mine. He’s a good teammate.”

Green said the veteran Collins played a mentor role, showing him how to conduct himself. Green said he had not considered the possibility of having a gay teammate.

“It never crossed my mind, but I’m not against it. We all are here for the same reason, that’s to win. No matter if you’re gay or straight, we’re here to play basketball.”

Green said he’d welcome Collins back on the Celtics next season.

“He was an awesome teammate,” said Green. “He played the game hard. He set good screens and got me open, so that’s all you can ask for.”

Jason Terry took it a step further, saying that Collins could have helped this postseason.

“We’d like to have him in this series,” Terry said, referring to the Celtics’ first-round playoff series with the Knicks. “He’s one of the toughest guys in the NBA.”

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett also pledged their support for Collins Tuesday.

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