HoopsHype Rick Welts rumors


September 27, 2011 Updates
September 18, 2011 Updates

To the technologically unhip, here are the consequences: Nash seems to be championing the criticism of his boss. That can't help their working relationship, and you wonder if this is Nash's way of asking out, of joining the long procession of employees who've left the organization in recent years. "I would absolutely confirm on a scale of 1-10, he's not an easy guy every day to work for," outgoing Suns President and CEO Rick Welts said. "But I'll tell you, the guy I worked for before him, David Stern, is off the charts when it comes to being hard to work for. Robert is a piece of cake. He's got a wonderful heart. He's got this thing about wanting to win that every fan should appreciate." Arizona Republic

Contrary to public perception, Welts predicts a bright future for the Suns. He says he strongly believes in the current management team. He says investments in basketball operations will pay off handsomely. And in the next few years, Welts believes the team "will be right in the thick of things, competing for a championship again." "If the Suns were a stock, I'd buy," he said. Arizona Republic

September 10, 2011 Updates

Suns President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Welts came to work Friday to tell team employees, many of whom he has worked alongside for nine years, that he is leaving them. Already mired in a league lockout, Suns employees did not need this news about their beloved boss but they helped to ease Welts' anxiousness about the move. As Welts revealed plans to leave by Sept. 15, he was joined in Managing Partner Robert Sarver's office by Sarver, Vice Chairman Sam Garvin, President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby - and good cheer. Arizona Republic

He wanted to shoot down any notion that he was being pushed out the door by the Suns, praising the support he has received from team owner Robert Sarver. "I think amicable is probably an understatement," Welts said of his leaving the franchise. He said both he and Sarver were concerned that some might have a misperception that, because of the timing, the Suns wanted him to leave. "Nothing could be further from the truth," Welts said. "From the time I made my announcement in May, the Suns, and Robert in particular, have been unbelievably supportive." He said that he and Sarver had just spoke again by telephone to thank each other. ESPN.com

Sarver said in a news release that the business side of the organization will report to general counsel Jason Rowley as the team searches for a new president. Sarver thanked Welts for "his tireless work on behalf of the Suns." Lon Babby remains the Suns' president of basketball operations. ESPN.com

The Suns are promoting General Counsel Jason Rowley to executive vice president to assume Welts' duties on an interim basis. A national search of candidates, including Rowley, will be conducted to fill the spot. Rowley joined the Suns in 2008 and represented Sarver's purchase of the Suns in 2004. "He's got a breadth of knowledge of business," Babby said of Rowley. "He's a problem solver and that's a big asset for someone in that position." Arizona Republic

September 9, 2011 Updates

Suns President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Welts is resigning after running the franchise's business side for nine years. Less than four months after jolting the sports world by becoming the first pro sports team senior executive to be openly gay, Welts jolted his own organization Friday by sharing plans to leave what he has called the best jobs in sports on his own accord. Arizona Republic

May 28, 2011 Updates

Rick Welts, the Suns’ chief executive, recently announced that he was gay. How do you think he’ll be received by the players? Steve Nash: I don’t think the players on our team care. Not a lot of guys on the team have a lot of contact with Rick, including myself. Obviously, I have a ton of respect for him and what he does for the organization. I think he’s great at what he does. New York Times

May 23, 2011 Updates

What has the response been in the week following the announcement?: Rick Welts: “There’s no other word than overwhelming, but overwhelmingly positive. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails, texts, phone calls and now I’m just starting to open mail. I’ve got U.S. senators, commissioners, players, owners, former co-workers. … I think the ones that are going to stick with me the longest are the people that I don’t know who have just felt the need to reach out — parents of kids who are struggling with this in their own lives, kids themselves.” Sports Radio Interviews

Has he heard any negativity or is he braced for that in case it happens?: Rick Welts: “I was braced for it, and I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but not one of those interactions up to this point has been somebody who felt the need to express dissatisfaction. Every single one has been written out of wanting me to know that that person supported me, thanked me, was proud of me, or somehow impacted their own situation. … That blows me away. I was braced for what I expected to be some negativity about it. It hasn’t happened yet. I suppose that’s inevitable. But on balance it’s clear to me right now that’s not what I’m going to be dealing with to a great extent.” Sports Radio Interviews

In the wake of Phoenix Suns general manager Rick Welts' revelation that he is gay, Suns point guard Steve Nash has made a video in support of New York's marriage equality proposition. "Hi I'm Steve Nash," he says in the video, produced by the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization leading the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. "I spend my summers in New York and I love playing at the Garden. A growing number of professional athletes are speaking out in support of gay and lesbian couples getting married, I'm proud to be one of them. Join me and the supermajority of New Yorkers who support marriage equality." ESPN.com

Nash had been considering appearing in the video for months. According to HRC vice president of communications Fred Sainz, the NBA star ultimately timed the release to support Welts and New York Rangers forward Sean Avery, who experienced a backlash among hockey fans after making a similar video. NHL player agent Todd Reynolds called Avery's support for the issue "misguided." Many anonymous commenters on message boards harshly criticized Avery for his support of the proposition, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has advanced. Cuomo is hoping for a vote by legislators in June. A previous proposition was defeated in New York by the State Senate in 2009. This time, proponents have generated a marketing campaign that's drawn the support of celebrities such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actors Julianne Moore and Sam Waterston. ESPN.com

May 17, 2011 Updates

After all, Barkley has no doubt he played with several gay teammates. “I didn’t think it . . . they were gay,” he said when asked Monday about Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts coming out in a New York Times story over the weekend. Washington Post

He didn't know how the other NBA executives would feel. He didn't know how NBA players, Suns fans, friends or strangers would react. For several anxious hours at 36,000 feet, Welts waited for the turbulence below. "It was a little bit surreal to be in a place where I couldn't even talk to anybody," Welts said by telephone from New York on Monday. In the first 24 hours after the story appeared on line, he was overwhelmed by the tone of the responses. He said he had gotten hundreds of emails. He said he saved the supportive voice mail ("It was priceless") from former Phoenix Sun Charles Barkley. Seattle Times

"I have to admit," Welts said, "it's pretty moving to read some of the emails I've gotten from people I don't even know who, for whatever reason, felt they wanted to reach out and say, 'Thank you for doing what you've done and here's my story and here's what I'm thinking about now.' That's pretty powerful. "And they haven't slowed down. They keep coming, which is kind of the most surprising thing to me. The responses I've been getting and the stories I've been reading in my emails show that the power of words is really there in changing people's lives." Seattle Times

I've known Welts for more than 35 years, since he was an assistant public-relations director with the Sonics and I was a cub reporter in Olympia. I knew what a great guy he was. I knew how hard he worked. I didn't know about his courage. As progressive as the NBA has been toward civil-rights issues, male professional team sports still are behind the curve when it comes to issues of homosexuality. Welts risked his professional life telling this story. "I've never felt any hostility in the work environment," Welts said. "But there is this kind of silence about (homosexuality) where we just agree not to talk about it. I think the NBA is further along in all (civil rights) issues. It's a far more diverse culture. I think the NBA is ahead of the pro sports curve, but that still is way behind where society is right now." Seattle Times

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