To any of you gay youth or young adults out there aspiring to a career in sports, take particular notice of Golden State Warriors president and COO Rick Welts.
The man just won his second NBA championship in three years. This after coming out publicly as a gay in 2011 when he was with the Phoenix Suns.
What’s of particular interest here is that Welts was hired by the Warriors after coming out publicly as gay. The Warriors didn’t have to hire “the gay guy,” but they saw his talent and potential for the team and did just that.
From the team’s Web site:
“The organization has won numerous awards across all facets of the business in recent years, including in May 2014 when the Warriors were named “Sports Team of the Year” by the Sports Business Journal/Daily, with Welts accepting the award on behalf of the organization at the Seventh Annual Sports Business Awards in New York City.”
By the way, while Welts was with the Suns they were pretty darn good, earning a trip to the NBA Finals in 1993 (can’t blame them for losing to Jordan and the Chicago Bulls).
In our opinion (and yes we’re biased, but we try to share opinion with some objectivity), Welts is beginning to enter into the Hall of Fame conversation. In addition to his work with these two teams, he boasts 18 very successful years in the league front office.
And while some people don’t want to talk about it, Welts’ identity as an out gay man comes into play. Don’t tell us that Tony Dungy’s race didn’t play a part in his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The same is potentially true of Welts, who kicked the closet door down when he came out with the vocal public support of David Stern, Steve Nash and Bill Russell.
It may be early, but it’s time to start talking about it.
For more Golden State Warriors news, visit Golden State of Mind.