Jason Collins didn't just provide Derrick Gordon with a role model before he came out. The two spoke before Gordon, the UMAss guard, announced he's gay, becoming the first NCAA Division I openly gay basketball player.
"He had a big impact," Gordon explained to Huffington Post. "I was talking to him as well throughout the whole process. It was exciting when I heard he was going back into the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets. I was still unsure. They said he had like a five or ten day contract. And that didn’t really solidify my guarantee in coming out. So I waited and waited, and then eventually, he got a [longer term] contract, and I was like, "Boom!" When that happened, I was like, 'I’m coming out soon. I just don’t know when.' So after the NCAA tournament and everything, I thought it would be the best time to do it in off season."
Gordon admitted that if the reaction to Collins return to the NBA had been negative, he might not have chosen to come out.
Derrick Gordon, UMass Basketball Player, On Feeling 'Ecstatic' After Coming Out And Jason Collins' Influence - Michaelangelo Signorile - Huffington Post