Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, is retiring after the 2020-21 NBA season, it was announced Thursday.
Welts, 68, has worked in the NBA for 46 years and in 2011 he became the most prominent sports manager to recognize that he is gay. He will remain with the Warriors as an adviser, and the team said it would likely nominate 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 I’ve been in,” Welts, 68, told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “The time is perfect for me [retirement] discussion, no one saw a pandemic. If it had been a year ago I think I would have struggled with that just because we were a total mess. We wouldn’t have a clue how to get out of this. That would not have been good for me and the organization.
“Now, just this week, we have state guidance to maybe have fans in the stands, hopefully before April is over and a path, hopefully, towards normalcy next year. I’m ready. The organization is ready. “Miss a beat. … I’ve done the great things I can do. It’s time to pass that 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 become the team’s public relations director when it won a championship in 1979.
He also served with the Phoenix Suns from 2002 to ’11, where he held positions as president and CEO. The Seattle native has seen the Warriors win three NBA titles during his 11 years with the franchise and also oversaw the construction of their state-of-the-art Chase Center in San Francisco.
“His intuition turned out to be perfect as his leadership, vision, creativity and relationship building enabled us to reach heights never before seen in the NBA on the business side,” said Joe Lacob, co-executive. chairman and CEO of Warriors in a statement. . “We thank him for his incredible contributions to our franchise and, more importantly, the class and character with which he represented our organization every day.”
Welts was also instrumental in the marketing of the NBA during his 17 years as a manager with the league. In addition to developing the idea for an NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984, he also promoted the Dream Team and the WNBA.
Simply put, Rick Welts played a transformational role in creating the modern NBA during his more than 40 years as pioneering league and team manager, said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “His extraordinary vision, leadership and humanity have set his career in the Hall of Fame, which has set the standard for excellence in the sports industry.
“I was extremely fortunate in my early years at the league office to learn directly from Rick about the affairs of the NBA and its teams and have always appreciated his friendship and generosity. that Rick will continue to make his mark on the game and the larger sports business. “
Welts told The Undefeated that he expects to live with his husband, Todd Gage, in Sacramento and San Francisco during retirement and plans to travel to Europe once the pandemic is over. He also still plans to attend and watch many NBA games.