Slam Dunk

Gay NBA Exec Rick Welts Rebounds From Phoenix Suns With New Gig

When Rick Welts, president of the Phoenix Suns, announced he was gay in May it sent shockwaves through the NBA, which had yet to have an out executive in a senior-level position. And when he stepped down from his post several weeks ago, some were worried it was the result of a negative reaction from his peers. But it looks like it was love that sent him packing—literally, to Northern California.

Welts (center) who had been with the Suns since 2002, has just signed on to be president of the Golden State Warriors, who are based in Oakland, CA, closer to where his partner, Todd Gage, lives.


In fact, Welts, 58, says reaction to his coming out has been universally positive.

“It sounds not even possibly true that out of all those thousands of emails and letters—people still send letters—[but] I haven’t had one negative reaction. I was prepared for something different. Really it has been pretty overwhelming.”

Welts says he’ll discuss his orientation whenever he feels its important, but he’s more fixated on his job.

“It’s part of my story but what I’m all about is running NBA basketball teams—and I’m running the Warriors.”

His new boss, Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, doesn’t seem too focused on Welts’ orientation either:

“Whether he’s gay or straight is irrelevant. I want the best executive possible. All I care about is winning, and we’re going to get there. I promise you, we’re going to get there. He took a huge risk. It’s a pretty impressive thing he did in the world of sports.”

We agree. Now all we need is someone who actually plays for the NBA to come out.

Image via Golden State Warriors