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Former Maverick & Jason Collins teammate surprised at the announcement

A_johnson_300_080108Former Dallas Mavericks reserve guard Anthony Johnson (pictured here during his days with the Hawks) played for two seasons with Jason Collins with the New Jersey Nets, and he admitted he didn't see it coming.

Johnson, who played for the Dallas Maverics in the '06-'07 season, was nice enough to call me back for this column I wrote on Collins' announcement that he is gay.

Johnson and Collins were teammates on the Nets in 2001 to '03, when the team reached the NBA Finals in each of those two season.

"I was surprised it was him," said Johnson, who is now a scout for the New Orleans Pelicans. "In the two years we played together, I had no inkling. He was a good teammate and helped us win a lot of games. As far as this situation, I applaud him to come out and let everyone know that he is gay. It takes a lot of courage in today's society and in sports to do what he did.

I asked Johnson if he thought today's current NBA locker room is ready for an openly gay player. He said absolutely.

"For people that would have an issue with it they have to mature a little bit and look themselves in the mirror," he said. "At the same time, you talk about going into battle and being physical and it's a war and all of that machiscmo stuff so it's one of those things that people might be slow to do. But everybody of all races and sexual orientations have to be accepted. It's part of life. Get on board."

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