Rick Welts Hub

Gay Former NBA Exec Rick Welts: Nike Hungry to Sponsor Openly Gay Pro Athlete

The first openly gay pro athlete, whether he be in football, baseball, or basketball looks set to score sponsorship deals worth millions of dollars and a promise from Nike is already on the table, Bloomberg reports:

WeltsBy the time former Phoenix Suns executive Rick Welts’s I-am-gay announcement appeared on the front page of the May 15, 2011, New York Times, he already had revealed his secret to friends, co-workers and business associates. Among those told before the article was published were NBA Commissioner David Stern and senior executives at Nike Inc...

...Nike asked Welts to deliver a message to anyone thinking about becoming the first openly gay athlete in major U.S. team sports -- the company wants him as an endorser.

Said Welts to Bloomberg: “They made it clear to me Nike would embrace it. The player who does it, they’re going to be amazed at the additional opportunities that are put on the table, not the ones that are taken off.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban called the opportunity "a marketing goldmine for all involved."

Gay marketing strategist Bob Witeck agreed: "the first openly gay team-sport athlete -- provided he’s a recognizable name -- would earn millions in endorsements and speaking engagements..."

Rick Welts Hired as President and COO of Golden State Warriors

Guess coming out of the closet in the world of professional basketball doesn't hurt your chances of being reemployed.

Welts Four months after becoming the first senior sports executive to announce that he's gay and less than a month after stepping down as president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, Rick Welts has been hired as President and COO of the Golden State Warriors, ESPN reports:

The team planned to introduce Welts on Tuesday at the team's practice facility. He replaces Robert Rowell, who resigned in June as the club's top executive for business operations.

After quitting the Phoenix Suns, Welts said he hoped to get a job in Northern California. Looks like that worked out well.

Phoenix Suns Player Steve Nash: Gay NBA Player Would Be Accepted

The NYT has published a short interview with Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash in which the he's asked about the recent coming out of his team's president and what he thinks might be the reaction if an NBA player came out.

Q. Rick Welts, the Suns’ chief executive, recently announced that he was gay. How do you think he’ll be received by the players?

A. I don’t think the players on our team care. Not a lot of guys on the team have a lot of contact with Rick, including myself. Obviously, I have a ton of respect for him and what he does for the organization. I think he’s great at what he does.

Q. Is the N.B.A. ready for an openly gay player?

A. If a player in the locker room came out, it would come and go quickly, too. I really don’t think it’s a big issue anymore. I think it would be surprisingly accepted, and a shorter shelf life than maybe we would imagine. I think the time has come when it should happen soon. I think it will be something that won’t take on this life of its own. It won’t be the O. J. trial.

Last week, Nash became the latest professional athlete to announce his support for marriage equality in a recorded video. In case you missed it, you can watch it here.

Watch: Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts Talks About Coming Out


Phoenix Suns President talks to Eliot Spitzer about the support he has received since coming out publicly in the New York Times over the weekend.

Spitzer asks Welts if he can name other gay men in the sports world.

"No. Because in the four years that I have been in sports, no one has ever asked me, and I have never asked anyone."

Watch their interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

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