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NBA executive announces he’s gay, hopefully league yawns

May 16, 2011, 8:10 AM EDT

Rick Welts AP

In an ideal world, the NBA (and basketball) is a meritocracy — how well you do as a player or coach or executive is based solely on how well you do your job. Skin color, religion, who you choose to sleep with, none of that should matter.

But we know better — organized professional sports remains one of the places left where there is a homophobic subtext. Sometimes not even a subtext, which is what got Kobe Bryant in trouble.

Rick Welts is trying to change that. Welts is the president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns and he came out to the New York Times in an interview published Sunday. That came after he met with those around him to tell them what was happening, and that includes David Stern, Steve Nash and (Welts mentor) Bill Russell.

In these meetings and in interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Welts explained that he wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He 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, he wants to feel whole, authentic.

“This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” said Mr. Welts, who stands now as a true rarity, a man prominently employed in professional men’s team sports, willing to declare his homosexuality. “Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”

Welts as had a long and storied career around the NBA — back in the 80s he helped revive the idea of All-Star Weekend with a slam dunk contest and more. He has risen from a ball boy to a guy in charge of an NBA team.

He got there in merit.

We all look forward to the day when this isn’t a story. Right now, it still is. But maybe this starts to change it a little.

  1. helinhater - May 16, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Kurt – With all do respect to Mr. Welts for his bravery…To give him credit for All Star Weekend/Dunk Contest is a bit shortsighted is it not?

    I know you write about the NBA…but the ABA held an All Star Weekend/Dunk Contest in 1976.

    So unless the at-that-time 23 year old was working in the ABA…I’m going to assume this idea wasn’t exactly original.

    And for you to give him credit is a bit disrespectful to all of the individuals from the ABA who helped make the NBA what it is today.

    However, kudos to Mr. Welts for coming out. Hopefully the small minded nature of professional sports will change in some way…and then you can give credit where credit is due, Kurt.

    • Kurt Helin - May 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM

      You are right, he did not create the idea out of whole cloth. It had been dorment for a few years, it did not run consecutively, he helped bring it back (the ABA had done it first). I changed the wording to say he was key to the revival of the event. Which is more accurate.

  2. olsherm - May 16, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Great to know one of the NBA executives is gay.

  3. seanb20124 - May 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM


  4. SmackSaw - May 16, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Gay!?!…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  5. sguy2130 - May 16, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Took some balls for him to come out.

    • 00maltliquor - May 16, 2011 at 3:01 PM

      OMG… LOL!!! Was that pun intentional? That put me in tears!

  6. jimsjam33 - May 16, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Is this another ” come out trailblazer ” who has a string of ex-wife’s and a slew of psychologically battered kids ?

  7. bigtrav425 - May 16, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    COUGH homo COUGH….Sorry i could not resist…But who really cares as long as he does his job and does it good…oh and doesnt want to have kids

    • thevikes85 - May 16, 2011 at 3:20 PM

      Why shouldn’t gay people have kids?They want kids let them adopt or get someone too surrogate two gay people can love and raise a child as well as a straight couple.They should also be allowed to marry,if they want to be miserable like the rest of us,let them be!!!

  8. cordae - May 16, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    He looks like Steve Carell…

  9. deiong - May 16, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    why the heck does it even matter? why does he have to tell people what his preference is? who cares, its his lilfe, why does he have to tell people?? why does he think people have to know?? is he looking for dates or something through a dry spell?? seriously why is this news what some guys preference is? and what makes him so special that people need to know ??

    • andyhr17 - May 17, 2011 at 7:51 AM

      Sorry, but you’re a moron…It’s people like who who say stuff like “Why does he have to tell everyone he’s gay! Does he think he’s special…is he looking for dates?” that are what’s wrong with this world.

      • deiong - May 17, 2011 at 8:47 PM

        if that is truely what is wrong with this world, then you live a charmed life, and shouldnt have a single worry about anything. enjoy life. because theres so much worse then someones preferences.. really.. there is so much more ugliness. so since this is what makes your world wrong. enjoy life because your worlds the greatest ever…

      • Reflex - May 18, 2011 at 12:04 AM

        1) Empathy and understanding would avoid the overwhelming majority of what is ‘wrong’ with this world.

        2) Its not a preference. There is not a ‘choice’ in this. He is what he is.

    • Reflex - May 17, 2011 at 8:43 PM

      Um, why not? Why do you have to show off your latest girlfriend, wife or kids? Why do you ever try to mentor anyone or be an example? In other words, why do you seem to think he should not want to be able to act like anyone else who is not homosexual can act?

      He wants to be there for those who need a mentor and role model. Thats a noble aspiration.

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