Welts, who has been in sports for 40 years, starting as a ball boy, went to the NBA office in New York to meet with Stern.
|Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts has revealed to the public that he is gay. Welts said that he wants to break down one of the last significant social barriers in sports.|
Stern told the Times that he anticipates—or, at least, hopes—that Welts’ revelation won’t be overly ground-shaking. “What I didn’t say at the time was: I think there’s a good chance the world will find this unremarkable,” Stern said. “I don’t know if I was confusing my thoughts with my hopes.”
Indeed, too often lately, the conversation has been drenched in rhetoric and cliche. Last week, when Sean Avery of the NHL’s Rangers did a public service announcement in favor of gay marriage, NHL player agent Todd Reynolds of Uptown Hockey said on Twitter he was, “very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender 'marriage'. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.”
Last month, Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 by the league when a camera caught him calling a referee by a derogatory, anti-gay slur after being hit with a technical foul. That happened to be the day after Welts had sat with Stern.
Welts has been a trailblazer in the NBA. It was his idea to create All-Star Weekend. His team bio also states Welts was responsible for the 1992 Olympics “Dream Team” marketing program as the agent for USA Basketball.
Welts received support from many prominent figures in the NBA community.
Bill Russell, Steve Nash and WNBA founding president Val Ackerman also met privately with Welts before he went public with his sexual orientation.
Welts told the Times his hopes are for a healthy discussion of homosexuality in men’s team sports and to mentor those worried about coming out.
The Times report said Nash, a two-time league MVP and current employee of Welts, was honored by his boss' request for support.
“Anyone who’s not ready for this needs to catch up,” Nash told the Times. “He’s doing anyone who’s not ready for this a favor.”