April 8 (UPI) — Golden State Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts will retire at the close of this 2020-21 NBA season, it was announced Thursday.
The 68-year old Welts, who is a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, has spent 46 years working in the league. In 2011, he became the most dominant executive in men’s professional sports to publicly acknowledge he’s gay.
Welts will stay with the organization as an advisor. The Warriors said they will name a new president over the next week.
“This has been the ride of a lifetime,” Welts said in a statement. “To have had a front row seat to the growth of the NBA from where it was in the late 1960s to its place today as one of the most respected and successful leagues in sports on a global stage has been an incredible privilege.
“The very first day I met Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, I wanted to be part of building what I understood could be a distinctive organization. We’ve got the most talented team in the market, and we are poised for even greater success in the future. Personally, I am eager for my next chapter.”
Welts started his NBA career as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1969. He became the team’s public relations director once the franchise won a championship in 1979.
Welts also worked in the NBA’s league offices from 1982-99 and was credited with the creation of this NBA All-Star Weekend notion.
He later worked for the Phoenix Suns out of 2002-11, holding roles as president and CEO.
Welts, a Seattle native, has seen the Warriors catch three NBA championships during his 11 years with the organization. He also oversaw the building of the team’s state-of-the-art Chase Center at San Francisco.