This is major. Dan Barry at the New York Times has published an extended profile of Phoenix Suns President & Chief Executive Officer Rick Welts. After spending 40 years in the National Basketball Association and hiding his sexuality, the veteran basketball executive has just come out as gay. Welts came out to NBA commissioner David Stern on the day before Kobe Bryant made his now-infamous homophobic taunt on the hardwood, reports the NYT.
When Mr. Welts left the N.B.A. in 1999, he was the league’s admired No. 3 man: executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of N.B.A. Properties. By 2002, he was the president of the Suns who still kept his sexuality private — a decision that at times seemed wise, as when, in 2007, the former N.B.A. player John Amaechi announced that he was gay, prompting the former N.B.A. star Tim Hardaway to say that, as a rule, he hated gay people.
But again Mr. Welts paid a price. 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.
One day after Welts had his conversation with Stern—and only hours before NBA superstar and basketball diva Kobe Bryant was caught on camera using an anti-gay slur—Phoenix Suns players Grant Hill and Jared Dudley filmed an anti-homophobia public service announcement for the NBA.
Read the fulll profile at the Times ...