Golden State Warriors President and COO Rick Welts recalls how the week he became the first openly gay American sports executive overlapped with Kobe Bryant using a gay slur on the court and how the NBA responded. This conversation is taken from The Huddle which will air on Yahoo Sports Friday October 16th at 3p ET.
RICK WELTS: Well, I don't talk to players who think there would be an issue of acceptance within their team or even fans. I think there is a concern, especially for a star player, that taking that step, such a public step, could bring a crush of interest and media attention to that team and potentially disrupt that delicate chemistry. Having nothing to do with what's right or wrong, or what you're comfortable with or not, but just what that would impose upon a player and a team around him is a reason for pause.
And I get it, you know. This is not, you know, a 50-year-old who's got a life experience that they can draw upon. So I still think those barriers are there. I'm the biggest WNBA fan in the world. I think the NBA is behind the WNBA significantly in this, men's sports in general.
And maybe I can just tell one quick story. The NBA follows the talk with action, right? The week I came out in a front page "New York Times" article of being gay, I was president of the Phoenix Suns in 2011, unfortunately that same week, Kobe Bryant used a gay slur on the court. And I think my story was a little current in David Stern's mind. So $100,000 later, I think Kobe, our players, and our fans understood that that's not something that was going to be tolerated in the NBA.