This involved more pressure than taking a game-winning shot. It also bore far greater implications than any outcome on the basketball court.

Yet, NBA veteran and former Harvard-Westlake standout Jason Collins shattered one significant barrier in professional sports in a move few could draw up on a clipboard.

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black and I'm gay," Collins wrote in this week's edition of Sports Illustrated. The magazine published the article on its website Monday morning. "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. "Several around the NBA sounded more than eager to reply. "Proud of @jasoncollins34," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tweeted. "Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others." Bryant then added the hashtags for courage and support.

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, San Antonio's Tony Parker and New York's Jason Kidd followed suit in separate Twitter posts. Several teams sent out statements reiterating the same thing. Within minutes of Collins' announcement, NBA commissioner David Stern lauded him for going public.

"Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career," Stern said in a statement, "and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue. "Collins didn't just become the first openly gay male athlete who remains active in a major American team sport. It also revealed a league's progressive attitude that largely welcomed his announcement.In a sort of argument that highlights Metta World Peace's unique personality, the eccentric Lakers forward made an interesting analogy regarding Collins' announcement. "Whether it's a free country or not, you should be free to act and do as you want to do, as long as it's not violent. I came here in a Cookie Monster shirt because I wanted to," said World Peace after having an exit meeting Monday with coach Mike D'Antoni and general manager Mitch Kupchak at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "I was going to wear the pants but I thought you (media) guys were going to judge me. And I was going to wear the hat, too, but I figured you guys would judge me. ... I should have wore it. You should be free to do and act how you want to act. "World Peace has helped mental health charities, raising over $600,000 by raffling off his 2010 NBA championship ring and earning the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2011. World Peace hopes such efforts removes the stigma surrounding mental health issues.Likewise, World Peace believes Collins' announcement will knock down the stigma surrounding homosexuality.