There are many who say that we live in an “elightened-era” in 2011 in the USA. Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts will be finding out first hand exactly how accepting people are especially in the NBA after conducting an interview in the “New York Times“. Welts who has been the Suns Team President since 2002 revealed to the paper that he is gay. The 58-year-old Welts is the first professional sports executive to admit to being gay. He told the paper that he wants to alleviate the stigma that is connected with gay men and pro sports.
Welts spent many years working in the NBA Front Office and became quite close with NBA Commissioner David Stern. The Commissioner told the paper that he had always assumed that Welts was gay but did not feel it was his place to broach the subject. The Commissioner as well as Basketball Hall Of Fame Player Bill Russell were among the first people he came out to.
Phoenix point guard Steve Nash told the paper he has no problem with the revelation. The veteran said “Anyone who’s not ready for this needs to catch up. He’s doing anyone who’s not ready for this a favor.”
ESPN The Magazine spoke with Suns coach Alvin Gentry about the news and the former NBA player did not seem the least bit troubled by the information. The Phoenix bench boss was asked if he had any idea that Welts was gay. He replied “I had a feeling about it. To me, what does it matter? I know he’s great at his job; he’s very organized and he does a brilliant job. To me, (the issue) is irrelevant. I’m happy for Rick because I think it takes a ton of weight off his shoulders. I’m glad for him because it puts him in a more relaxed state. Do I look at him any differently or judge him any differently? Not in a million years. I’ve dealt with Rick for the last seven years and he’s a great CEO and a great person.”
Welts is getting support so far. We shall find out over the next weeks and months how broad and how long lasting that support is.