Welts has spent 46 years working in the NBA and, in 2011, became the most prominent sports executive to acknowledge that he is gay. After beginning his NBA career as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1969 and literally fetching coffee for coach Bill Russell, Welts eventually was the team’s public relations director when it won a championship in 1979.
Welts also worked with the Phoenix Suns from 2002 to ’11, holding roles as president and CEO. The Seattle native witnessed the Warriors win three NBA titles during his 11 years with the franchise and he also oversaw the building of their state-of-the-art Chase Center in San Francisco.
Welts also played a major role in marketing the NBA during his 17 years as an executive with the league. In addition to developing the idea for an NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984, he also promoted “The Dream Team” and the WNBA.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated contributed to this report.