Rick Welts Rumors
The N.B.A. stood out at the New York Pride’s March; it was the only major professional sports league to be represented. And yet, no active player since Jason Collins has come out as gay — a thorny issue, one that even Rick Welts struggles to explain. “I think the hardest thing is always active players, and I get it,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s hard. We’re dealing with very young people.”
The final element of the tribute came in the form of a gesture on behalf of the night’s sponsor, City National Bank. Midway through the first quarter, Warriors President and COO Rick Welts joined City National Executive Vice President Michael Walker to present a $10,000 check to the SagerStrong Foundation, where 100 percent of donations go to cancer research and education.
This is a major move for the franchise–away from KNBR’s monster signal and tradition–but it has been in the works from the moment Warriors executives (led by owner Joe Lacob and president Rick Welts) were infuriated when KNBR moved several Warriors playoff games this spring to a sister station in order to broadcast Giants games. Big bullet point for Warriors management: 12 of their 24 playoff games this past season were not broadcast on KNBR 680 due to Giants conflicts. Also, eight other exhibition-season or regular season games were moved from 680.
League officials also addressed the controversial anti-LGBT law in North Carolina that jeopardized the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte. In a poignant address, Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts, 63, who is openly gay, explained his meaningful and lifelong affiliation with the NBA and told league owners he didn’t feel comfortable attending the All-Star Game in Charlotte if the law remained as is.
Three people who were in the room gave USA TODAY Sports identical accounts of Welts’ heartfelt and unscripted address and provided other details of the meeting. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about what was said in the room. Rick Buchanan, the league’s general counsel, started the discussion with a straightforward update on Charlotte, including details about conversations league officials had with North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Charlotte city officials and local business leaders. Silver told owners there wouldn’t be a vote on moving the game, but it was important to hear opinions of those in the room.
After Buchanan’s update, some owners reiterated the league’s core values of diversity and inclusion while acknowledging the North Carolina law is a sensitive issue. No owner spoke up and opposed relocation. Silver, owners and league executives also looked at the issue from a business standpoint. Was it a good idea to hold the league’s midseason celebratory showcase event in a city where the weekend would be overshadowed by protests and media coverage of the House Bill 2, which doesn’t afford protections to those in the LGBT community?