A decade after coming out gay, Rick
Welts, the NBA's first openly gay executive, has announced that he'll
retire at the end of the season.
Welts, 68, has served as the Golden
State Warriors' president and COO since 2011. He previously worked
for the Phoenix Suns.
In a press release, the Golden State
Warriors said that Welts would continue with the team in an advisory
“This has been the ride of a
lifetime,” Welts said. “To have had a front row seat to the
growth of the NBA from where it was in the late 1930s to its place
today as one of the most respected and successful leagues in sports
on a global stage has been an incredible privilege.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that
Welts “played a transformational role in creating the modern NBA
during his more than 40 years as a pioneering league and team
Welts publicly came out in a 2011 New
York Times interview. He told the outlet that he paid a high
price for remaining in the closet, including having to silently
grieve the death of a lover from AIDS.
“[I want to] pierce the silence that
envelops the subject of homosexuality in men's teams sports,” he
told the Times.
In 2020, Welts married his partner of
nine years, Todd Gage, at San Francisco City Hall. The ceremony was
officiated by Mayor London Breed.
Welts thought it inevitable as a gay man that he would contract HIV.)