Out In The NBA: Warriors COO Rick Welts

RICK WELTS, one of the most respected business executives in the NBA, is entering his seventh season as president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors. Under his direction, the Warriors have won numerous awards across all facets of the business in recent years, including the prestigious Sports Business Journal/Daily “Sports Team of the Year” award in 2014 and again in 2016. Welts has over 40 years of experience in the league, including stints as president of the Phoenix Suns and public relations director of the Seattle Super Sonics, where his NBA career began as a ballboy in 1969 at the age of 16. Welts spent 17 years with the NBA league office in New York, where his notable accomplishments included the creation of NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984 and the marketing program for USA Basketball’s Olympic “Dream Team” in 1992, and was named “Marketer of the Year” by Brandweek in 1998 for his role in launching the WNBA.

In this episode of The Will To Change, you’ll discover:

Why Rick made the decision to come out publicly as a high ranking NBA executive (3:50)
The controversial state law in North Carolina that led the NBA’s decision to relocate the 2017 All-Star game (9:40)
A surprising reason why active professional sports players are reluctant to come out as gay (18:35)
Lessons from the NBA’s diversity efforts for other organizations (29:40)
Rick’s diversity and inclusion vision for the Golden State Warriors (32:13)
Rick’s thoughts about the current state of the WNBA (38:30)
A mindset shift for how to build on forward progress in diversity and inclusion (42:25)

Rick discusses the feedback that he received after coming out, as well as the work that he has done championing the NBA’s diversity and inclusions efforts. Rick also shares his unique perspective on diversity and inclusion in professional sports as the only “out” president in the NBA.