NBA All-Star weekend: Why Warriors exec’s attendance has deeper meaning

Warriors president/chief operating officer Rick Welts attended NBA All-Star weekend after initially having reservations because of North Carolina's repealed bathroom law for transgender people

Golden State Warriors Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts also worked with Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

Klay Thompson subscribes. You can too for just 11 cents a day for 11 months + receive a free Warriors Championship book. Sign me up!

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rick Welts, the Warriors’ president/chief operating officer and the NBA’s most prominent openly gay executive, attended NBA All-Star weekend after having initial reservations because of North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law.

USA Today first reported the news.

It is not clear if Welts will attend Sunday’s All-Star game. But he was here for All-Star weekend on Friday and Saturday.

Welts’ participation in All-Star weekend here is notable for two reasons.

As a former high-ranking NBA executive, Welts created the concept of NBA All-Star weekend in 1984. That morphed into a star-studded event that grew to include the Slam Dunk Contest and the 3-point shootout.

Want Warriors news delivered to your phone? Sign up for a free trial of Mark Medina’s Warriors text messaging service* * *

Second, the NBA had relocated its All-Star game in 2017 from Charlotte to New Orleans because of a bill that required transgender people to use restrooms, locker rooms or showers in government buildings and schools that matched their biological sex, and not their gender identity. Welts publicly announced in a New York Times article in 2011 that he is gay.

The view of the league office and many others, [is the bill] “discriminated against the LGBTQ community,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a press conference Saturday. “We then made a decision that it was inconsistent with the values of this league to play the All-Star Game here under those circumstances.”

North Carolina has since replaced that law with HB142, which allows transgender people to use a bathroom or other facility that identifies with their gender. But local goverments still cannot offer protections for any transgender people.

“For many people, it didn’t go far enough, and I’m sympathetic to those who feel that there are still not appropriate protections for the LGBTQ community,” he said. “But I also felt from a league standpoint it was important, and as part of our core values, to work with people and ultimately to move forward with the community.”

WARRIORS HQ PODCAST: Be sure to visit our podcast page at You can also get notified of new episodes on iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify, Stitcher and SoundCloud.* * *

Follow Bay Area News Group Warriors beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

blog comments powered by Disqus