Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
Golden State Warriors President and COO Rick Welts will retire at the end of the 2020-21 season.
Golden State Warriors @warriors
After an illustrious career in the NBA and at the helm of our team, Rick Welts has decided to step down as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Golden State Warriors at the end of this season.
Thank you for everything you have done for the sport and our franchise, Rick!
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the Hall of Famer is stepping away after 46 seasons in the NBA. Welts has been with the Warriors since 2011, having previously spent time with the Phoenix Suns, Seattle SuperSonics and the NBA league office.
In 2011, Welts came out as gay in a New York Times article by Dan Barry. He broke ground in helping destigmatize homosexuality within the NBA, and Welts is considered perhaps the most prominent gay executive in sports.
Welts joined the Warriors in part to live with his partner, Todd Gage, whom he married last year. When Welts joined the franchise, it had made the postseason just once in the previous 17 seasons. The Warriors are now viewed as one of the NBA’s premier franchises, having made the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons, including a run of five straight Finals appearances.
“The opportunity with the Warriors was recognized by everyone, except the Warriors,” Welts told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “The view from the outside was that it was a remarkable market, remarkable fan support, there were companies in the Bay Area that were charting the future of the world, there was the physical beauty of living in the Bay Area. It was so compelling to everyone from the outside looking in.”
Welts said he planned to retire after the 2019-20 season but was talked into staying for one more year by Warriors management. He will continue working with the franchise as a consultant.