Rick Welts, president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns for the last two years, has come out publicly as gay in a newspaper report. In a story posted on The New York Times’ website Sunday, Welts is seen having a meeting with NBA commissioner David Stern to tell him that he’s gay.
The story reports Welts had not felt comfortable until now to be open about his sexuality and plans to go public. “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.”
In addition to meeting with Stern, Welts also spoke to NBA legend and friend Bill Russell and to Val Ackerman, founding president of the WNBA, the paper reported.
The paper, after those meetings and its own interviews with Welts, said the executive “wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports.” It said Welts “wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office.”
“Most of all,” the paper wrote, “he wants to feel whole, authentic.” Named to his current position by the Suns in 2009, Welts also oversees the club’s interests in the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. He started his career in the NBA as a ball boy for the Seattle SuperSonics in 1969 and has also spent time in the league office in New York City.