Jason Collins

Brooklyn Nets Jason Collins speaks during a news conference before an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls at the Barclays Center in New York. Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, announced his retirement on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Longtime NBA player Jason Collins, 35, announced he was gay last year, becoming the first openly gay player of any major sports.  A year later, Collins has announced his retirement from the NBA.

“It’s time, and I’m very much looking forward to the next steps,” Collins said Nov. 19 during a press conference.

Collins was signed by the Brooklyn Nets in February and has played 22 games for the team since then.  Collins started his career with the Nets in 2001 and ended his career with the team in 2014.  Collins averaged 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 20.4 minutes during his career with the Nets, Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston and Washington.  Collins wore the No. 98 in his final seasons in the league to honor Matthew Shepard, a gay college student in Wyoming who was killed in 1998.

“After last season, especially over the summer, my body was talking to me like it does to all professional athletes after a certain while,” Collins said according to NBA.com.  “It’s a young man’s game and Father Time is undefeated. Got another one.  I always want my legacy to be known as a great teammate…someone who always sacrificed for the team.”

Following Collins’ announcement last year, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out about being gay in February and was drafted by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

In April, University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon became the first openly gay player in Division I men’s basketball.

Former professional tennis player Billie Jean King, who announced publicly she was gay in 1981, told The Associated Press, “Collins is an influencer on and off the basketball court.”