Rick Welts Rumors

Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts still will have a reason to celebrate if his team doesn’t win the NBA championship: he’s been named as the celebrity grand marshal of San Francisco’s gay pride parade. The San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee announced Monday that it had selected the 58-year-old sports executive for the honor previously enjoyed by such notables as singer Cyndi Lauper, actor Cheyenne Jackson and transgender activist Chaz Bono.
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The Warriors are hoping to break ground on their new arena project shortly after the start of 2016 and have the venue completed in July or August 2018, team president Rick Welts said Tuesday. Welts said there was not a way for the Warriors to have the 18,000-seat arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood about a mile from AT&T Park ready by 2017, so they would stick with their original timeline of opening for the 2018-19 season. The Warriors released renderings of the interior of the arena for the first time as Welts spoke at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Forum.
Rick Welts: But going backwards, I would say maybe the most personally gratifying was the launch of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). It was something that I think was clearly the right thing at the right time. I’m proud that the leadership of our league was willing to take that on as a very special project for those of us who were working there who really felt the time had come for a major women’s professional basketball league that had all of the financial and organizational support that the WNBA had when it got started. Here we are [19 years later], so its been so much fun to watch. I got to be part of a couple championship seasons with the Phoenix Mercury when I was in Phoenix with the Sun’s organization, which was really a very special thing.
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Rick Welts: The thing that I get credited with, maybe that I’ll always live with, is the creation of the NBA All-Star Weekend. It wasn’t really as visionary a thing on my resume as people might want to credit me for. I was in the unenviable position of trying to sell the NBA to major corporate sponsors at a time when the NBA was not viewed as a good investment for companies like that. I knew that if we could create some additional events, I’d have a chance at least to try to create some corporate interest in sponsoring those events. That, really as much as anything, was my motivation in trying to create a second day of events around All-Star: that we could bring the fans with the support of some corporate partners, and that really was an important part of launching [NBA Commissioner] David Stern’s success.
When Jason Collins publicly announced his homosexuality in April 2013, Jackson told reporters, “I know Jason Collins; I know his family and am certainly praying for them.” This seemed particularly tone-deaf considering that Golden State COO Rick Welts, the first high-ranking sports executive to come out, worked in the same building. Welts says he approached Jackson and had “a nice conversation, like grown‑ups,” adding, “He knew how I felt, I knew how he felt. I’m sure he thought it was an opportunity to educate me, and I thought it was an opportunity to educate him.”
“Listen, we had a great relationship while he was there,” Welts told the radio station. “Actually there were a couple points in time where he and I, I really had to go into his office and say, ‘You know, here’s how you handled something, and here’s what you said about that that I don’t think you understand how that affected me.’ “We had the conversation, and after he left the organization this summer, I had a trip to L.A. and texted him and asked him if we could meet for a cup of coffee, which he said, ‘Absolutely, let’s do it.’ We got together in Santa Monica, had a great talk, a great laugh about all the great things that had happened. He’s going to be amazingly successful going forward, and we wish him nothing but the best.”
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The Warriors were named “Sports Team of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily, earning recognition for excellence and outstanding achievement in the business of sports. “We have an incredible group of talented and committed employees and are looking forward to continuing to grow as an organization as one of the top franchises in all of sports,” said Warriors president Rick Welts, who accepted the award in New York.
Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts is one of the few people who knows what NFL draft prospect Michael Sam might be going through after announcing he is gay this week. And Welts is as eager as anybody to see how it all plays out. Welts, who became the first openly gay NBA executive when he revealed his sexual orientation in a front page story of The New York Times in May 2011 while with the Phoenix Suns, said he’s looking forward to the day such announcements are no longer a big deal. But he’s still not sure how far away that day is in sports. “I think we’re still in the midst of it being a really big story,” Welts said before the Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 123-80 late Monday night. “And if you could ever pick somebody to play this part, I think the right guy is going to play it. Just watching him the last few days and seeing the confidence and how strongly he felt about what he decided to do, I think the NFL combine got a lot more interesting and I think the draft did, too. It’s going to be fascinating to watch as he walks through this, but I really do think he’s the right guy for this.”
Colangelo was one of four speakers at Stern’s farewell bash, a group that included former Suns’ president Rick Welts and current Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, who was the first president of the WNBA. He also said Silver stole the show, where the new commissioner used his speech to spoof Stern’s love of big words, especially the ones that don’t actually exist. That speech revealed a lot more charisma than Silver could ever show during his apprenticeship.
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“He really looked for people who had the same genuine love for the sport that he had,” said Rick Welts, who worked for the NBA for 17 years as an executive, ultimately becoming Chief Marketing Officer and president of NBA Properties before taking jobs as president of the Phoenix Suns and, then, the Golden State Warriors. It makes a difference. He wasn’t interested in people who were really talented people unless they had that emotional investment in the game. Because he does.”
Q: Was there a single toughest moment? A: Personally, the booing. It was a little unexpected. Perhaps it should have been more expected. That was a very tough individual moment. But from an organizational standpoint, it was the number of people we had to let go. That’s what no one ever sees. We wanted to see what we had, give everybody a chance, when we took over. But in May and June and July of 2011, even into September, we made a lot of changes. At one point we had like 50 positions open. We had a business to run. People were going to show up to watch basketball games and there was nobody to run this place. There was a moment of absolute fear. We were very fortunate to start at the top, getting a commitment from Rick Welts to be president and chief operating officer. There was a scary 30-60 days before we opened the season, because we did not know who was going to run the show.
The Golden State Warriors announced today a variety of fan friendly digital upgrades to Oracle Arena, the Warriors ground for all home games, to significantly improve the game day experience for fans for the 2012-13 season. “There has been more invested in Oracle Arena this summer than any other summer since the building was renovated in 1997,” said Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts. “Our job is to provide the best game day environment on a season-long basis and we know these enhancements, focused on improvements for fans and ways to make Oracle Arena and our team more digitally advanced, will improve the overall experience for our fans.”
“We are really excited to continue on our long-standing partnership with KNBR,” said Warriors President & COO Rick Welts. “This new agreement will enable the Warriors and KNBR to enter our fourth decade together during a period of time that is very compelling for our fans and our entire organization for a number of reasons, including, most importantly, the product on the floor. “We’re eager to venture down this road with The Sports Leader.”
On the size of the proposed arena: (Golden State Warriors Rick) Welts: ”We haven’t landed completely on the number of seats. It will not be as large from a capacity standpoint as the arena we play in now (19, 596). We think, frankly, that’s a good design. We want it to be an extremely intimate facility. But until we do have the design nailed down, it’s not possible to explain with accuracy the size of it.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”