Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will retire after the 2020-21 NBA season, it was announced Thursday.
Welts, 68, has been in the NBA for 46 years, and in 2011, he became the most prominent sports executive to acknowledge that he is gay. He will remain with the Warriors as an advisor, and the team said it would likely name a new president within a week.
“One of the things I’ve always been good at is knowing the right time to leave a position that I’ve been in,” Welts, 68, told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “For me, the timing is perfect. When we were having the discussion [del retiro], no one saw a pandemic. If it had been a year ago, I think I would have struggled with it just because we were a total mess. We would have no idea how to find our way out of this. That would not have been a good aspect for me and the organization ”.
“Now, we have a state guide to maybe having fans in the stands hopefully before the end of April and a path, hopefully, to normality next year. I’m ready. The organization is ready. We’re not going to lose pace. .. I have done the most important things that I can do. It is time to pass that task on to someone else. “
Welts began his NBA career as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1969, eventually working his way up to becoming the team’s director of public relations when he won a championship in 1979.
He also worked with the Phoenix Suns from 2002 to 2011, serving as president and chief executive officer. The Seattle native has watched the Warriors win three NBA titles during his 11 years with the franchise and also oversaw the construction of the Chase Center in San Francisco.
“His intuition proved to be spot on as his leadership, vision, creativity and relationship building enabled us to reach heights never before seen in the NBA on the business side,” Warriors CEO Joe Lacob said in a release. “We appreciate his incredible contributions to our franchise and, most importantly, the class and character with which he represented our organization every day.”
Welts also played an important role in marketing the NBA during his 17 years as a league executive. In addition to developing the idea for the NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984, he also promoted the Dream Team and the WNBA.
“Simply put, Rick Welts played a transformative role in creating the modern NBA during his more than 40 years as a pioneering team and league executive,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “His extraordinary vision, leadership and humanity have defined his career in the Hall of Fame, which has set the standard for excellence in the sports industry.”
“I was tremendously lucky to learn about the business of the NBA and its teams directly from Rick in my early years in the league office and have always appreciated his friendship and generosity. As he moves on to his next endeavor, I don’t have any. He doubts that Rick will continue to make his mark on the game and the sports business. “
Welts told The Undefeated that she hopes to live with her husband, Todd Gage, in Sacramento and San Francisco during retirement and plans to travel to Europe once the pandemic is over. He also plans to attend and watch many NBA games.