Click here to read a cool behind-the-scenes look at how SI landed that groundbreaking Jason Collins cover story. Highlights:
At 9 a.m. last Friday the writer Franz Lidz drove to the Los Angeles home of Jason Collins with a completed draft of a story on which the two had collaborated two days earlier. When he arrived, Lidz was introduced to Collins' mother and father; his twin brother, Jarron; and a high school classmate. They, along with Jason, would have final approval. As the group gathered around the kitchen table, Lidz's daughter Daisy offered a suggestion: Why not have Jason read the story aloud?
Shortly after 8 on Easter morning, Lidz, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated from 1988 to 2007, phoned me at my home. Representatives of an active NBA player, whom they did not identify, had told Lidz that their client was considering sharing, publicly, that he was gay.
The player had agreed to speak to SI on Wednesday, April 24, in Los Angeles, a week after the end of the NBA regular season.
The player's identity remained unknown to Lidz until the agreed-upon date. He, and we, knew there was a very real, understandable possibility that the player could change his mind. Lidz and SI executive editor Jon Wertheim arrived in L.A. on the night of April 23. At noon the next day, they were directed to meet with Collins at his home. For four hours Collins shared his story with remarkable clarity, directness, emotion and humor (keyword: Shaq). There was a deeply moving note of graciousness too.
[Collins reading] "...pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who's gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who's out."
After Collins, having choked up a half-dozen times, read those last words of his story, the kitchen was quiet for a beat. His mother broke the silence. "One thing I disagree with," she said. "Your aunt Teri is a superior court judge in San Francisco." There was laughter at the nitpick, then the happy silence of the very proud.