Golden State Warriors’ President and COO Rick Welts to step away at the end of the season

Rick Welts has spent 46 seasons overall in the NBA, including 10 with Golden State Warriors.

After guiding the franchise to one of the most successful decades in NBA history from a business operations perspective, Golden State Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts will step away from his role with the organization at the end of the 2020-21 season, Welts and the team announced today.

Welts has been a member of the NBA for nearly five decades, including this most recent stint with the Golden State Warriors, which began in 2011.

Currently, in his 10th season with Golden State, Welts has spent 46 seasons overall in the NBA, including roles with three teams—the Seattle SuperSonics, Phoenix Suns, and the Warriors—and the NBA league office.

He was initiated into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, the crowning achievement in a career filled with numerous accolades. In 2011, Welts became the highest-ranking executive in men’s professional team sports to publicly acknowledge he was gay.

Welts will remain associated with the organization as an Advisor. The Golden State Warriors are expected to name a new President within the next week.

This has been the ride of a lifetime,” said Welts. “To have had a front-row seat to the growth of the NBA from where it was in the late 1960s to its place today as one of the most respected and successful leagues in sports on a global stage has been an incredible privilege. The first day I met Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, I wanted to be a part of building what I knew could be a special organization. We have the most talented staff in the industry, and we are poised for even greater success in the future. Personally, I am excited for my own next chapter.

When Joe, Peter, and I agreed on the timing of this announcement two years ago, we didn’t have a pandemic on our radar screen. As it turns out, now that we can look forward to welcoming fans back safely to Chase Center, and we have a realistic hope for a return to ‘business as usual’ for next season, this timing feels perfect.

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I’ll never forget the day we introduced Rick to the media as our President in 2011,” said Joe Lacob, Warriors Co-Executive Chairman, and CEO. “On that day, he noted the Warriors franchise was always viewed as a sleeping giant that could be very successful if it ever got into the right hands. Well, there were no better hands than those of Rick Welts, and his intuition proved to be spot-on as his leadership, vision, creativity, and relationship-building enabled us to reach heights never seen before in the NBA on the business side. We thank him for his incredible contributions to our franchise and, more importantly, the class and character with which he represented our organization each day.

Beginning of Welts’ career

Welts began his NBA career as a ballboy with the SuperSonics in 1969 at the age of 16 and, a decade later, was a part of the franchise’s lone NBA championship in 1979 as its public relations director.

During his 17 years with the NBA league office in New York (1982-99), he filled many vital roles and eventually rose to Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, and President of NBA Properties.

Welts’ notable accomplishments with the league included the creation of NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984 and the marketing program for USA Basketball’s Olympic “Dream Team” in 1992. Along with Val Ackerman, he was named “Marketer of the Year” by Brandweek in 1998 for his role in launching the WNBA.

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