By Adam S. Levy
Radar Staff Writer
In a landmark announcement in the sports community, Phoenix Suns president and chief executive Rick Welts has revealed he’s gay.
Welts, 58, told the New York Times he informed NBA commissioner David Stern (who’d known, but never broached the issue) of his plans to go public with the info last month, and that Stern was supportive.
“This is one of the last industries where the subject is off-limits,” Welts told the paper. “Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”
Welts is the highest profile sports executive to come out.
“The fact that there’s no other man who has done this before speaks directly to how hard it must be for Rick to do this now,” Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport leader Richard Lapchick said.
Among Wells’ career accomplishments include creating the NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984, which has since developed itself into a hugely-profitable annual vehicle for the league, as well as a pop culture happening. Wells also played a key role in creating the WNBA.
Wells’ announcement comes just a month after Stern fined Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant $100,000 for calling referee Bennie Adams “f****t” after the official gave him a technical foul.
Stern called the superstar’s on-court slur “offensive and inexcusable.
“While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated,” Stern said. “Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”