PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. -

A 34-year-old NBA center tells Sports Illustrated that he's gay.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation," Jason Collins wrote in the SI article.

Collins has played with New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston, and Washington over an 11-year career. He previously starred at Stanford before entering the NBA in 2001.

Collins cited the Boston Marathon bombings as a reason he chose to come out when he did.

"Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?" wrote Collins.

Collins wrote that he wanted to continue playing basketball, but also be "genuine and authentic and truthful."

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement Monday, saying: “As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family.   Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

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