Golden State Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will retire after the 2020-21 NBA season, it was announced on Thursday.
Welts, 68, spent 46 years working in the NBA, and in 2011 he became the most prominent sports director to admit to being gay. He will stay with the Warriors as an advisor, and the team said they are likely to appoint a new president within a week.
“One of the things I’ve always been good at is knowing the right time to leave the position I was in,” Welts, 68, told Marc J. Spears of “The Undefeated.” “For me, the weather is perfect. When we had it [retirement] discussions, no one saw the pandemic. If it was a year ago, I think I would have fought it just because we were a total mess. We would have no idea how to find a way out of this. That wouldn’t be a good look for me and the organization.
“Now, just this week, we have state guidelines that we might have fans in the stands, hopefully before April is over and the road, I hope, to normalcy next year. I’m ready. The organization is ready. Failure. … I’ve made big things I can. It’s time to pass it on to someone else. “
Welts began his NBA career as a ball player with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1969, only to eventually strive to become the team’s director of public relations when he won the championship in 1979.
He also collaborated with the Phoenix Suns from 2002 to ’11, holding the roles of President and CEO. The Seattle-based parent saw the Warriors win three NBA titles during their 11 years with the franchise, and oversaw the construction of their state-of-the-art Chase Center in San Francisco.
“His intuition proved noticeable because his leadership, vision, creativity and relationship building allowed us to reach heights we had never seen before in the NBA on the business side,” the co-CEO and CEO of Warriors said in a statement. “We thank him for his incredible contribution to our franchise and, more importantly, the class and character with which he represented our organization on a daily basis.”
Welts also played a major role in NBA marketing during his 17 years as executive director of the league. In addition to developing the idea for NBA weekend stars in 1984, he promoted the Dream Team and WNBA.
“Simply put, Rick Welts played a transformative role in creating the modern NBA during his more than 40 years as a pioneer league and executive team,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “His outstanding vision, leadership and humanity have defined his career at the Hall of Fame, which has set the standard of excellence in the sports industry.
“I was extremely fortunate to learn directly about the affairs of the NBA and its teams directly from Rick in his early years working in the league office and I always appreciated his friendship and generosity. As he moves on to his next venture, I have no doubt Rick will continue to leave a mark. in the game and the wider sports business. “
Welts told The Undefeated he expects to live with his wife Todd Gage in Sacramento and San Francisco during his retirement and plans to travel to Europe after the pandemic ends. He also plans to attend and watch a lot of NBA games.