Basketball | Kobe Bryant

Long-time NBA Executive Comes Out

The New York Times
has published a terrific piece on long-time National Basketball Association executive and Phoenix Suns President & Chief Executive Officer Rick Welts, who has just now publicly come out as gay. The article delves into the specifics of the 40 years he spent hiding his secret life from those in the league, culminating in his coming out to NBA commissioner David Stern the day before Kobe Bryant's now infamous use of a gay slur.

From the New York Times:

Two years ago, a 14-year relationship ended badly, in part because his partner finally rejected the shadow life that Mr. Welts required. “My high profile in this community, and my need to have him be invisible,” Mr. Welts said, with clear regret. “That ultimately became something we couldn’t overcome.”

He began to think: here he was, in his mid-50s, and maybe he had sacrificed too much; and maybe he should open up about his sexuality, in a way that might help others. He kept a journal, sought advice from his sister and close friends, listed the pros and cons. He also had long talks with his widowed mother, Phyllis, in the months before she died of lung cancer, at 85, last fall. She encouraged him to do what he thought was best.

Read the rest of the article here.

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  1. "OHPLEASE" hit the fruck'N nail Right on the HEAD!

    Posted by: MoJo | May 15, 2011 8:55:53 PM

  2. You can be too rich or too str8? or too cautious?

    Posted by: anon | May 15, 2011 9:01:48 PM

  3. The Amazing Ratbastard must always have a comparison of whites to minorities. DAM GURL we already know you're prejudice...So lets move on! OKAY?

    Any of you QUEENS who dialouge with this god forsaken queen get what you get from her.

    Posted by: CHRIS DACHOCOLATEBEARCUB | May 15, 2011 9:33:20 PM

  4. My feelings are somewhat mixed. Yes, it would have been nice if he'd come out years ago -- mostly for him - but it he had, it is very unlikely he would have achieved the influential position he has now.

    Coming out is such a personal decision. My only serious problem with someone who chooses to stay closeted is if they intentionally hurt other gay people, like closeted politicians who vote against our rights. There is nothing to indicate Welts ever used his position to promote bigotry or hurt gay people. At the same time, we should remember the Suns are the team how came out very strongly against Arizona's hateful anti-immigration law to the point where they changed their jerseys to read "Los Suns".

    I say good luck to Welts and the NBA. This is a significant step forward.

    Posted by: Smartypants | May 15, 2011 10:27:55 PM

  5. Well, he's certainly put himself in a tough position, and you don't build a wall like that in a day. It takes years, with each compromise of your soul adding another brick to the wall. I guess I'm amazed that he found anyone at all, let alone someone who was willing to put with that for 14 years. He's certainly done some damage to his LGBT brothers and sisters in that time, if only indirectly, but maybe he'll develop the integrity to do something about that. Too late for his partnership, though. Sad. Very sad.

    Posted by: Justin L Werner | May 15, 2011 10:39:08 PM

  6. Everything else aside, this has to be among the most tortuously written articles, like, ever. Does the NYT always suffer from this "stick-up-yer-ass" kind of overwrought prose? No wonder readership is falling.

    Posted by: ANON IN SO CAL | May 15, 2011 10:39:23 PM

  7. This is so sad but his story is played out by millions.

    Posted by: Corve | May 16, 2011 12:18:05 AM

  8. As a 59 yr. old gay man, I am dismayed at the small-mindedness of the gay men who post comments here. I feel that one of the side effects of growing up gay in the 1950s was the open-mindedness it instilled in those of us who have witnessed the slow progress in gay history in America. I think some of you younger, judgmental gay men need to do some reading about life and times in the previous century. Your condemnation betrays your ignorance of the world beyond your own.

    Posted by: stick | May 16, 2011 12:48:57 AM

  9. I came out when I was 20. That was 1975. However, it pleases me that someone like Mr. Welts comes out publicly even if he has very little to actually lose.

    Posted by: Liam | May 16, 2011 1:56:55 AM

  10. @BOBN, He owes us nothing!
    This is the 21 Century, and it's good news, just very late in coming. I see he started out as a ball boy, I bet he could tell us a few other interesting tidbits,too. I was just reading about this on ESPN site, and the bigots and dummies are putting their 2 cents in comment wise. I've been involved in gay politics and sports for over 35 years. I've seen great progress, but at a snails pace. For the young people who take their gay rights for granted... we have come a long way, and still have a long way to go. I know that being gay does not make you a better athlete, fan,politician, executive or hairdresser and you should be judged by your full content of character... and not just your sexuality or preference.

    Posted by: Jerry Pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher | May 16, 2011 2:17:33 AM

  11. i want marriage with Miss universe Jimena Navarrete.

    Posted by: Sanjay | May 16, 2011 4:35:50 AM

  12. I say, better to come out later in life than to never come out at all.

    Posted by: Allen | May 16, 2011 10:31:04 AM

  13. What is cowardly are all these people offering an opinion about when they think OTHER people should come out of the closet. Rich, poor, black, white or whatever, people need to make a decision when it's good for them- not convenient for you.

    As a fellow Phoenician Mr. Welts, congratulations.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | May 16, 2011 12:40:15 PM

  14. Some people are stronger in some ways than others. My partner took years and years and years to come out, and we almost split up over it. But he finally did it, and I love him for it. In so many other ways, he's been way ahead of me and patiently waited and encouraged me to become a better person as well. Give this guy a break, and maybe you'll catch one when you need it down the road.

    Posted by: Yeek | May 19, 2011 10:47:29 AM

  15. Facts: He is gay, white, privileged, donated to McCain, hasn't supported a gay cause, said John Amaechi was a coward because he waited til he retired to come out, knows how to produce a story for selfish reasons, used a PR firm to handle his "coming out"

    Fiction: The so called "shadow"or "shadow life" he speaks of-never heard of it until the article came out. "His partner could no longer stand the secrecy"-what was the secret? I did not live MY life in secrecy, he did! "A 14 yr relationship ended because he wouldn't go public"-That was never on the table, ultimatums never work! He fabricated these ideas to get the sympathetic vote.

    Everyone(David Stern, other NBA Execs, Execs from other companies for sponsorship,family and friends included)knew he was gay. He lived a full life, he was respected, he excelled in his career based on merit like it should be not by your sexuality. Where is the sadness in that?

    Posted by: The 14 year Ex | May 24, 2011 5:19:45 PM

  16. Part 2
    He created his own hurdles regarding coming out! I'm not sure why this is even news mostly because he isn't an athlete he is in the front office handling business affairs. His interaction with players, coaches, trainers aren't an everyday interaction so I find it difficult to understand why he is a hero, pioneer, brave etc.
    Read the article at

    My fellow gay bros and sisters, it's never too late to change! Despite the fluff story I applaud him for taking the leap. I can only hope he will use this platform to help fight for gay rights. I my reservations but that's me knowing the person who lied about our breakup and used it to get sympathy without regard to how it will effect me. Our friends and families know the truth. I'd rather stand with Ben Cohen, Wil Sheridan, Hudson Taylor or even Steve Nash because their sacrifices stand for something more than a paycheck.
    We can only wait and watch to see if he is a man of his word. Remember the name Rick Welts.

    Posted by: The 14 year Ex | May 24, 2011 5:20:55 PM

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