Monday, May 16th, 2011 at 9:30 am  |  51 responses

Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts Announces He’s Gay

In the macho world of pro sports, it’s very rare for anyone — from players, coaches, to front-office personel — to come out of the closet, but Rick Welts took the brave step forward. The NY Times reports: “Last month, in a Midtown office adorned with sports memorabilia, two longtime friends met for a private talk. David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, sipped his morning coffee, expecting to be asked for career advice. Across from him sat Rick Welts, the president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, who had come to New York not to discuss careers, but to say, finally, I am gay. In many work environments, this would qualify as a so-what moment. But until now, Mr. Welts, 58, who has spent 40 years in sports, rising from ball boy to N.B.A. executive to team president, had not felt comfortable enough in his chosen field to be open about his sexuality. His eyes welling at times, he also said that he planned to go public. By this point, Mr. Welts had already traveled to Seattle to share his news with another friend, Bill Russell, one of the greatest basketball players ever and the recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He had also met with Val Ackerman, the founding president of the Women’s National Basketball Association, in New York, and would soon be lunching in Phoenix with Steve Nash, the point guard and leader of the Suns and twice the N.B.A.’s most valuable player. In these meetings and in interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Welts explained that he wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. Most of all, he wants to feel whole, authentic. ‘This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,’ said Mr. Welts, who stands now as a true rarity, a man prominently employed in professional men’s team sports, willing to declare his homosexuality. ‘Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.’ Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, and the son of the basketball legend Joe Lapchick, agreed. ‘The fact that there’s no other man who has done this before speaks directly to how hard it must be for Rick to do this now,’ he said. Mr. Stern did not find the discussion with Mr. Welts awkward or even surprising; he had long known that his friend was gay, but never felt that he had license to broach the subject. Whatever I can do to help, the affably gruff commissioner said. He sensed the decades of anguish that had led the very private Mr. Welts to go public.”

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  • http://www.slamonline.com iSwag

    In other news, Richard Jefferson demands trade to the Suns.

  • cklyn sazer

    Would someone leave that doggone closet open so this stuff doesn’t become news anymore, unless it helps phoenix wins a title now.

  • Tupack Shackur

    Hey iSwag,

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    I wonder what Kobe has to say about him…

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    Nicely done Swag.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    The only bad thing about this news is that it still has a reason to be news. To that extent, I say good for Mr Welts.

  • AD


  • RobbieJay

    i like how it says “announce” like its some state of the union adress, its just his sexual preference. sheesh only in america


    Figured I’d see a Rudy Gay to the Suns comment already.

  • angus

    men in pro sports really should keep quite about this….so much for basketball being a non sissys game.

  • Mike From Spain

    Mr Welts:’I am gay’. Rudy Gay:’I haven’t seen you in any family occasions before…’ Lame joke :)

  • mike2

    lol@mike from spain

  • dma

    Until a major sport athlete comes out things like this will always be ‘news’ homophobia is so huge in sports, with I think basketball being the biggest culprit. Good for you man.

  • Trout

    I guess it’s different here in europe this would barely make a ripple now but good luck to him.

  • Jred Schott

    Show of hands, who knew who Rick Welts was before he “announced” he was gay? Show of hands, did that “announcement” encourage anybody to do anything other than ask “who the hell is Rick welts”?

    Thats the problem with all these “coming out of the closet” announcements. Who the hell do you think you are that I would care? Thats literally like me announcing that I’m straight. who the f*ck cares. If he has a wife and kids, perhaps he owes them an explanation, if not, WHO THE F*CK CARES.

  • http://slamonline.com 1982

    Mr. Welts, congratulations on coming out. You do realize it’s the playoffs, right? If you really wanted to pierce the silence, try the off-season when ppl are dying for news.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    Discouraging percentage of moronic comments on this one.

  • Jred Schott

    can we get a comment from Gary Payton?

  • http://Www.slamonline.com MichaelG

    Leviticus 18:22

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    “Some guy you’ve never heard of is gay” In other news: Greg Thomas from Topeka Kasnas is allergic to peanuts. Okay…

  • the truth

    why is this news?

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    MichaelG: Please also tell us how eating shellfish will send us to hell.


    Its a very commendable step. Believe it or not people, there r still people that hate homosexuals. They get beat up, death threats, killed, etc.., So it is a brave step. Its a machista world so even more props 2 him

  • Dave

    and this has what to do with actual basketball???

  • O

    Yeah, I honestly don’t care if dude is gay. What was the point of announcing it? Who cares about what sexual orientation a basketball exec is?

  • http://www.twitter.com/jtrain73 Jono

    The only news I wanna hear from Phoenix is the Nash/Marion/Amare/D’Antoni reunion! Otherwise no one cares. WTH, this is a basketball website!

  • MikeC.

    Good for you Mr. Welts.

  • bike

    So now we know the real reason Amare wanted out of Phoenix.

  • http://aol.com Run”N’Gun219

    Man i get so tired of this sh!t being forced down our throats. Ok you are gay, so what? That is your option,and there is nothing wrong with that. but what i hate is im being forced on you( every show has to have one token gay person being over the top with it) and read about it in newspapers and magazines. im a straight man, i dont want to have to see two men kissing everytime i watch tv. and then they are wondering why are kids are so messed now, its because there is no filter anymore.(NOT JUST THE GAY THINGS, BUT SEX, NUDITY, CURSING, DRUGS) Its all fair game now. When i was coming up (IM 28) u had to see that kinda stuff on HBO after hours, but now it comes on abc,nbc, and everyother channel all day long.. SMH

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    Anyone else get a look at all the tweets aimed at Grant Hill that he retweeted after his PSA about using the word “gay” in a derogatory manner?
    Yeah, but everybody’s cool with gay people and all that. Riiiighhht….

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    I wonder if a pending extortion was on the horizon regarding Welts.
    I love conspiracies. lol

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Co-sign Hammer 100%

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Wow @ RunNGun.
    Who said you have to watch 2 guys kissing on television? There’s something called the remote. You can use it.
    And yeah, that’s DEFINITELY what’s wrong with the world–too many gay things being shown on television! YEP, school shootings happen because kids grow up looking at too many gay things, and it makes them want to pick up a gun and go psycho. YEP. And nudity too. When I see a woman’s breasts, it makes me want to rage out against the world.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com MichaelG

    @ Ryan Jones: you got a problem with the word? your taking it up with the wrong person. And you should really try reading it because “hellfire” is a babylonian teaching NOT taught in the bible.

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    Hi MichaelG, Jesus is gay.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com MichaelG

    People put so much stock in being “PC”, they’ll challenge God before they ever question who’s pushin what they’re buying.

  • Texas Forever

    Cosign HAMMER. To the ppl who are being vocal in opposition to (a) Welts making this announcement and (b) this being a news item on alot of basketball sites these last few days, you – of course – have the right to speak your mind. But grow up a little. It’s not hurting you. It shouldn’t bother you. If neither of those are the case (i.e., it doesn’t affect you), then why make such a big stink about it?

  • baykusreyiz

    fake and gay

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ MichaelG: I’m a little curious as to what you think should be done with gay people. Let’s hear it.

  • AMPduppp

    I’m upset that this is news; not because it isn’t basketball-related, but because we live in a society where homosexuality is still considered ‘news’ instead of being accepted as a normal sexual preference. That being said, big ups to Welts for having the courage to come out, I got respect for the balls it takes to do that

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    MichaelG: I tried reading the bible but someone misplaced it in my library. It wasn’t anywhere in the fiction section. Lame, people really should get on that correction.
    Thanks for the history lesson though, Moses.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com MichaelG

    Jukai: You should really put more thought into your sarcasm. It’s one thing to lack faith, wich is a matter of personal decision. It’s a completely other thing to question fact. For example the bibles historical accuracy thruout pre-history confirmed after the fact in archeology and later in secular litterature I.E. Historians such as Flavious Josephus. Unfortunately those books will not be found in the fiction section either. That is for now, until “free thinkers” lol, such as yourself decide for the everyone else what they can and cannot believe. @Teddy: I don’t think anything should be done to homosexuals, why would you make that assumption? Is it because anyone who does not conform to “pc” popular opinion must be made an enemy? But since you asked, I believe homosexuals should not be treated any differently than myself or any other decent human beings. But I also believe not to base my standards off of ever changing popular opinion. Such as it has been “pc” in times past to openly discriminate against homosexuals. Instead I choose to stick to bible principles and gods standards on what acts he defines as moraly acceptable wich never changes. The bible defines the act of homsexual intercourse as morally unclean and unnatural. No differently than stealing, fornication or lying. All things I’ve done in the past, so I view a homosexual no differently than I view myself. But just like I wouldn’t praise a man for stealing or being a liar, I dissagree with praising a man for advocating homosexuality. That’s just my opinion, and unlike Farmer Jones would like to suggest, I would never conddemne anyone for dissagreeing, and don’t believe in “hell”. I find it ironic and telling that the same people who believe they are “tollerant” of others, are the same ones getting in line to jump on a peaceful guy with a differing viewpoint. But then again that’s very “pc”.

  • giogolo

    i wonder when people meet life or death situations and they don’t believe anything on the bible. Other than their family’s and loves ones…who they call to? No God, no Jesus,no supreme being to be in connection with. I guess that’s why there’s so many miserable lives now, regardless of sucess or lack hereof. Shame.

  • giogolo

    What’s “pc”?

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    ROFL at MichaelG. A lot of “300″ is ‘historically accurate’ and you wont hear me saying that the movie 300 was real. That’d be slightly less silly than, well, believing that fairy tale BS you’re spouting out. Also, if you don’t believe in hell, you are a bad Christian. But spin it anyway you want.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com MichaelG

    Jukai: Ive explained my opinion, don’t like it? want to call names and shoot insults? Fine :) I’m sure that makes you quite the chap around town amongst your peers! There is no point in having a proper conversation with someone that demands his opinion is superior thru such shallow means. The funny thing is that people like you believe yourself to be tollerant, and then you turn right around and discriminate disrespect and sit on your pedestal judging others classifying them and attacking thier faith. While I would never attack you or anyone else for your opinion. Your choice of illustrations only prove that you lack understanding of what you appose, but that’s not shocking at all, that is the common responce. Yes my faith and beliefes make me different, a small minority . yes you are like many of the blinded masses that only think that they think for themselves, but in reality are just going with the grain. The perfect example was you judging me a bad Christian for not adhearing to “pc” Catholic doctrine. Very good. The problem is that you fittingly turn to man run organizations, the most popular in facdefine what a Christian is

  • http://Www.slamonline.com MichaelG

    * in fact, to define what a “good christian” is.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com MichaelG

    The Nicene and niceno Constantinople councils are responsible for voting and creating doctrine from false teachings such as Hell, The Trinity, and immortality of the soul. You can read about it in historical books (try the library jukai) All very popular pagan beliefs amoung Constantinoples, Greek and Roman constituates that he sought to unify thru religion, wich would only make him and his empire more powerfull. In fact, the word catholic means “universal”. And once again in the bible Jesus fortold that after his death this great apostacy would take place, and that great churches would spring forth and twist he truth, leaving true Christians scattered about and hated for thier beliefs, until his coming his kingdom was to come and put and end to all false teachings and rulers. Dig deeper…

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    Oh, looks like my giant post got lost in the filters. Pity.
    Let me just say “f*ck it” and write “OHHHH I’m totally tolerant of religion and I don’t think anything should be done to them but they’re totally evil and are doing bad things everyday” sort of like your 1:54 am post.
    Have fun with that, sinner.

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    On a side note, slam really needs to fix their stuff.

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    Yeah, just as I thought, total crap— the idea of hell has existed since the beginning of Christianity, just in different levels and meanings. The Council of Nicaea just put what they thought was right into writing. They didn’t invent anything.