Rick Welts, the president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns, has come out gay.

Welts told David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, about his sexual orientation at a meeting last month in New York, the New York Times reported. That discussion occurred after Welts had already spoken with several stars of the sport, including Bill Russell and Val Ackerman.

“This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” Welts told the paper. “Nobody's comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”

The 58-year-old Welts joined the Phoenix Suns in 2002 as president and chief operating officer and was named chief executive officer seven years later, capping off a journey that began 40 years earlier when he joined the NBA as a ball boy. He becomes the first openly gay man in a prominent position in the NBA.

In the article, Welts talked about having to silently grieve the death of one lover from AIDS and the high toll he's paid for remaining in the closet.

“My high profile in this community, and my need to have him be invisible,” Welts regretfully said about a recently failed relationship. “That ultimately became something we couldn't overcome.”

Welts said Stern was “supportive but didn't ask questions” and the pair hugged after their meeting.

“What I didn't say at the time was: I think there's a good chance the world will find this unremarkable,” Stern said. “I don't know if I was confusing my thoughts with my hopes.”