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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 20, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 20
Phoenix Suns executive announces he is Gay
Section One
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Phoenix Suns executive announces he is Gay

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On May 15, Rick Welts, president and CEO of the NBA Phoenix Suns basketball team, announced he is Gay. Welts says he went public with his announcement because he wants to break down one of the last significant social barriers in sports.

According to news reports, Welts talked to NBA commissioner David Stern, WNBA president Val Ackerman, Hall of Famer Bill Russell, and Suns guard Steve Nash before discussing his sexual orientation with America.

All of them offered Welts their support.

'This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,' said Welts. 'Nobody's comfortable in engaging in a conversation.'

Welts' declaration makes him one of the most prominent figures active in sports to openly admit to being Gay. Others in the industry have come out, but usually well after their playing career is over.

Welts, a 58-year-old UW alum, began his career in Seattle as a ball boy for the SuperSonics. He went on to become the architect of the All-Star Weekend and helped raise the NBA's profile as a league executive before leaving to run the Suns.

His announcement comes at a time when the NBA has been forced to confront anti-LGBT bullying by L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who last month responded to a technical foul by calling a referee a 'faggot.' The league responded by fining Bryant $100,000. He later apologized for the slur.

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