Does it really matter? Yes, and no.
Is the timing right? Sure, and who knows.
As we take all this in, considering the ramifications of such a statement, and examine our own fears and stereotypes, maybe the only thing we're sure about is this is the kind of story that will be more about us than it will be about Jason Collins.
The fact that Collins has declared this morning in a Sports Illustrated cover story that, at the tail end of his NBA career, he's as comfortable marching in a gay pride parade as he is boxing out Blake Griffin for a rebound arrives special delivery during a curious moment in our American sports history.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," Collins begins in the SI piece, apparently trying to define what's the most important details of his life's legacy at this moment.
The way the magazine wants to define him, as well as others in the immediate conversation, is that Collins jumps to the front of the line to become the "first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport." Add to that "male" team sport, and you've got yourself some buzz.
The groundwork, ironically, was probably laid years ago by another prominent San Fernando Valley athlete. David Kopay, who prepped at Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, wrote in his 1977 autobiography about his "extraordinary self-revelation" of coming out after his NFL career
ended. He proclaimed his sexual orientation in a Washington Star story that ran Dec. 9, 1975.
That's almost three years earlier, to the day, than the Collins twins were born in Northridge. Find a copy of "The David Kopay Story" before you start talking about "first" this or "brave" that.
In years since, those who've needed to know about the private lives of athletes such as tennis great Martina Navratilova, retired NBA player John Amaechi and a variety of players in the WNBA probably got their fill.
In today's media world, Jason Collins' first-person story could easily be digested, dissected and dispersed on so many levels, so much so that it could even be yesterday's news by week's end. It's that crazy?
It'll be talk-show fodder for hours, with experts coming in to speculate about how NBA locker rooms will be changed forever, and maybe now this will be the door that needed to be cracked open before someone in a far more masculine sport such as the NFL will finally come out, as has been speculated for weeks.
That's one reason, SI managing editor Chris Stone admits, that this story had to come out now, and why he calls it a "watershed moment."
Is that really how we want to frame Collins' story? Or can we just take the words of former President Bill Clinton, who says he's known Jason Collins since he was attending Stanford University with his daughter Chelsea.
"It is a straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are, to do our work, to build families and to contribute to our communities."