HoopsHype Rick Welts rumors

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April 10, 2012 Updates

On a Sunday last May, Rick Welts boarded a plane in San Francisco knowing that by the time he landed in New York, his life would be changed forever. He wasn't sure if it would be changed for the better. At some point while he was flying over Middle America, the New York Times posted a story to its Web site acknowledging that Welts had become the highest ranking sports executive ever to reveal that he was gay. "It was a bizarre experience having no idea what was going on 40,000 feet below me," Welts said. "I'll never forget the wheels touching down, turning on my Blackberry and watching it almost explode with emails." Contra Costa Times

A 14-year relationship had ended badly in part because Welts felt the need to keep it secret from his work life. But he also was feeling a tug of responsibility to help push forward the national dialogue about sexual orientation in sports. "The barrier for people in my situation is that there hadn't ever been anyone who had taken this step," he said. "I thought something good might come out of it. There might be a kid out there who would think, 'You know, I probably could do whatever I wanted because of who I am, not in spite of whom I am.'" Welts' mother, who has since passed away, encouraged him to do what felt right. He began meeting with people such as Suns star Steve Nash, Russell and Stern about his complete life. All three agreed to be part of the article that would appear on the New York Times' front page and lead to an outpouring of support. "The big headline for me is that Rick finally felt a sense of relief," Stern said. Contra Costa Times

December 22, 2011 Updates

He said Smith was fired nine days after a reporter texted her and asked if Ellis was "stalking" her. After Smith told a Warriors human relations manager about the inquiry, the suit said, she was told "that's not good" before she was terminated. In a statement read to reporters in Oakland, team President Rick Welts said the Warriors "take seriously any allegations of harassment." "When we were made aware of a consensual relationship between Mr. Ellis and the plaintiff, we did what an organization should do: We told both to stop promptly, directly and fairly," Welts said. "The Warriors have never taken any action against the plaintiff for any inappropriate reason and we deny the allegations she is making," Welts said. He promised to "vigorously defend the reputation of the Warriors organization in the courts" and refused to answer questions. San Francisco Chronicle

November 27, 2011 Updates

Rick Welts, the Golden State Warriors' new president, told the world he was gay in May, instantly becoming a pioneer in the closeted world of professional sports. The enormity of that decision was spelled out to him during a recent dinner in New York. "At least you know what your obituary is going to say," a friend told Welts. "Is that really what I want to be remembered for? Well, it's what I signed up for," Welts said. "There is a sense of responsibility that goes with continuing to be part of that dialogue. "It will always be part of my story, but what I'm all about is running NBA teams and running the Golden State Warriors." San Francisco Chronicle

"There was a great unknown about how my announcement would be received and how it would affect my professional life, but I wanted to help others in the future," Welts said. "I hoped it would resonate with young people who might be wondering if they could succeed professionally in any field because of who they are. The response has been overwhelmingly humbling in every possible way." San Francisco Chronicle

As it would happen, Welts was on a flight from San Francisco International Airport to JFK at the exact time the story went public. Right before takeoff, he sent an e-mail to about 100 close acquaintances so they would be prepared. "What's the level beyond scary? That's where I was," Welts said. "I don't know if you can even imagine the feeling of knowing that everything in your life is changing 40,000 feet below you. "It was surreal. It was crazy. I touched down in New York, and my phone went KABOOM." San Francisco Chronicle

November 13, 2011 Updates

They found an assistant general manager in Bob Myers, a former sports agent with no sports executive experience, and hired first-time coach Mark Jackson. They talked Rick Welts into becoming the team's president about two weeks after he appeared to have retired from the league, and coaxed Jerry West into joining the executive board. "The hiring of Jerry West might be the single most important thing," Lacob said. "Not only is it what he's going to contribute, but also it was a statement of how serious we are about this. We want to go through every aspect of this organization and improve it." San Francisco Chronicle

October 24, 2011 Updates

Your job is not to instill in the Golden State Warriors an ethic of tolerance, but do you hope to have an impact -- do you feel obliged to have an impact -- on, say, Dorell Wright, Steph Curry, Monta Ellis and Mark Jackson, who is an observant evangelical Christian? Is "making a contribution," as you say, a hands-on experience whereby you speak to the team for 15 minutes one afternoon after practice and tell your story? Rick Welts: The answer is, "I don't know." I had a great conversation with Mark on the phone. Everyone in the organization has been incredible. I'll tell you one of the most gratifying experiences I've had since May -- and you'll understand this -- is the interview I had with the Warriors. I was with Peter Guber and Joe Lacob for six hours. I realized I didn't have to guess what they knew or might have known or how they'd feel about it, whether they'd have a problem with that, because I was out. ESPN.com

Welts: And it wasn't until about four hours into the meeting when one of them goes, "So how did the announcement go over with the ownership in Phoenix?" I said, "It went over great," and then we went back to the Warriors. For me, as someone who spent his whole business career worrying about how that would affect my ability to be successful in the occupation I'd chosen, that was a pretty amazing experience. ESPN.com

October 17, 2011 Updates

As part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, Shaquille O’Neal is teaming up with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to launch its “Amplify Your Voice!” campaign, and Warriors President Rick Welts will be honored Oct. 21 by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) during their seventh annual Respect Awards gala in Los Angeles. The Warriors named Welts president and chief operating officer in September to oversee business-related operations and report directly to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. He had a nine-year stint with the Phoenix Suns as president and was chief executive officer the past two seasons. San Francisco Chronicle

October 16, 2011 Updates

Suns managing general partner Robert Sarver understood Welts’s reasons for relocation and placed calls to the Maloof brothers, owners of the Sacramento Kings, as well as Lacob and Guber. Lacob returned the call shortly after the team parted ways with president Robert Rowell. “I’m still shaking my head, to tell you the truth,’’ Welts said. “I had expected to take some time off and it didn’t quite work out that way. “It was really a fortuitous opportunity, and for me it was the perfect intersection of what I was hoping to do. I was hoping to be back in the NBA or at least in sports. It was a very lucky chain of events for me.’’ Boston Globe

While Welts made headlines with his announcement, the attention has died down considerably. Perhaps that is a testament to the times, but the lack of focus on his personal life is welcomed. His life since the revelation, he said, “hasn’t changed as dramatically as people like to assume. “My family has always been amazingly supportive, and really it was only in my work life that the fact that I was gay was not in my day-to-day life. That wasn’t a tremendous burden. “There’s been an unbelievable outpouring of support. I truly have not received one negative correspondence, either letter or e-mail, or telephone call out of thousands of interactions since this has happened. Boston Globe

October 10, 2011 Updates

The Phoenix Suns are turning to former Henkel Consumer Goods CEO Brad Casper to run its business operations. Suns owner Robert Sarver will hire Casper as the team’s new team president, according to the Sports Business Daily and Sports Business Journal. Casper replaces Rick Welts, who resigned from the Suns in early September and recently was hired as Golden State Warriors President & COO. Business News

October 3, 2011 Updates

Today, though, partly out of respect for Stern, Welts would rather not go there. But as the highest ranking executive in team sports that has publicly disclosed that he is gay, the 58-year-old Welts knows he has to answer questions that no other executive has ever had to answer. And he knows that in moving to the Bay Area, with its large and proud gay population, he will be an even bigger role model and local celebrity than he ever has been before. "I knew when I decided to go about this the way I did that this was what I was signing up for," Welts said. "There's a platform and an opportunity that I actually feel a sense of responsibility to do. From this point on there's going to be a part of my life that's going to be devoted to having an intelligent discussion about sexual orientation ... it sounds so Pollyanish, but literally, I've gotten hundreds of letters, thousands of e-mails, and I haven't received a single negative comment. I was really expecting to hear from some people. Maybe they don't have my e-mail address." NBA.com

September 27, 2011 Updates

The Warriors named Rick Welts president and chief operating officer, the team announced late Monday. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Welts, 58, will oversee business-related operations and will report directly to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. He had a nine-year stint with the Phoenix Suns as president and was chief executive officer the past two seasons. San Francisco Chronicle

"Rick is simply one of the most highly regarded executives in the NBA, and his accomplishments at both the team and league levels are extremely impressive," Lacob said. "His track record in all facets of the business - sponsorship, marketing, public relations, event management, team services, merchandising - and his ability to be strategically creative and cutting-edge make him the ideal candidate to lead our organization. Quite honestly, I'm convinced that we could not have found a better candidate for the job." San Francisco Chronicle

Eleven days after his nine-year stint of running the Suns' business ended, Rick Welts accepted a job to run the Warriors' business operations. The hire came a week after his first conversation with new Golden State owner Joe Lacob. "He (Sarver) really was the one who initiated the conversation on my behalf," Welts said after the hiring was announced Monday night. "I had been looking forward to doing different things but the opportunity with this team and this market worked so well for me geographically. I was not able to pass that up and I couldn't be more ecstatic." Arizona Republic

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