Ryan Resch has made a rapid rise from an intern with the Phoenix Suns in 2017 to his role as the team’s vice president of basketball strategy and evaluation and right-hand man to general manager James Jones. And he is performing his role as an openly gay man.
Resch, 29, came out as gay this weekend in an interview on ESPN.com with staff writer Kevin Arnovitz in which he said his goal is “to normalize for people in and out of the league the existence of gay men and women on the basketball side.”
Resch is a basketball junkie who nine years ago was a student manager for the Baylor men’s basketball team and now he serves as the Suns’ front office chief of staff, making him, in Arnovitzs words, “the first openly gay person in league history to work basketball operations in an NBA front office.” In contrast, longtime NBA executive Rick Welts, who came out as gay in 2011, worked on the business side.
Resch came out to Jones in January when he told him he was bringing a male date to the game to sit in the executive suite. Jones was totally supportive and it told Resch that coming out with the Suns was going to be OK.
The seeds of his coming out were planted in 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the league and Resch has a lot of time to think.
“I finally told myself, ‘You need to stop running away from the obvious, and the obvious is that you’re gay,’” he said. “That’s probably something that I knew the entire time, but that path to acceptance was rocky, and far longer than it should have been.”
When I arrived in Phoenix, I got through the first couple years again doing the same thing. I tried to distract myself with my career while also trying to hide the truth inside of me, which I’m starting to realize is, ‘Hey, man, You’re probably not completely straight, and that’s why you’re having a very difficult time putting work to the side and committing to finding a girlfriend.’ Then the pandemic hit, and like so many people I had my anchor ripped away, which was the team. The amount of uncertainty and free time really allowed me to take a step back in my life and to realize that this is not permanent — basketball is not permanent, the Phoenix Suns are not permanent, your career is not permanent. I needed to put myself out there.
I had dated women in the past, and I began doing it again and developed a couple of relationships throughout that time frame, which was not easy during the pandemic. It eventually reached a point for me where I could no longer run from my own reality. I finally told myself, ‘Stop drowning yourself in work, stop trying to hide behind all of that as an excuse for not just confronting who you are and what you are.’
Resch is very thoughtful in his answers, especially on why gay players don’t come out. The whole interview is worth your time and it’s a nice ending to Pride Month to have a major NBA executive, someone who will be around for decades, be out and proud.