Metta World Peace relates Cookie Monster shirt with Jason Collins

Metta World Peace wore a blue Cookie Monster T-shirt for his end-of-season meeting with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Coach Mike D’Antoni on Monday.

Then he had a message for everybody when asked about NBA player Jason Collins, who revealed publicly he was gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

“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,” World Peace told reporters at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “And 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 done much work on behalf of mental health issues, raising about $600,000 by raffling off his 2010 championship ring and receiving the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2011.

“When you feel comfortable with yourself, not only does it make you a better person.... It’s unnecessary stress, as we all know, if you’re holding things in,” he said. “It can just bring unnecessary stress to your heart, to your mind and when you can release it and talk about it, you feel better. And that’s how it should be with anything, not just coming out if you’re gay or if you have a mental issue and whatever other issue or stigma there is out there.”


Kobe Bryant added his support to Collins on Twitter, saying he was “proud” of Collins and gave the advice to “don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others.”

Bryant was fined $100,000 by the NBA in April 2011 and criticized by numerous gay-rights groups for directing a gay slur at referee Bennie Adams during a game against San Antonio.

Bryant was irritated after being called for an offensive foul and punched a chair on the Lakers’ bench before throwing down a towel, yelling “Bennie!” and muttering a curse word followed by the slur.

Bryant apologized at the time and said he would “own up” to his remarks by talking to gay-rights groups.


NBA center Jason Collins says he is gay

Athletes send their support to Jason Collins via Twitter

Metta World Peace wants to stay and win with the Lakers