Warriors President Rick Welts to leave after this season

SAN FRANCISCO — (AP) — Rick Welts will leave his job as Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer after this season and stay in the organization as an adviser.

This is Welts' 10th season with the team, and the Warriors said Thursday they expect to name his successor within a week.

The 68-year-old Welts was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018. He has spent more than four decades in the NBA, including a stint at the league office in New York.

He led the project plan at second-year Chase Center, where the Warriors will welcome back fans for their April 23 home game against the Denver Nuggets and provide free at-home COVID-19 testing for fans ahead of time.

Team owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber made Welts the unofficial foreman for Chase Center, which opened in September 2019 as the organization relocated from Oakland to the Mission Bay district of San Francisco. Welts' goal was to build one of the top entertainment venues in the world, right up with The O2 in London and Madison Square Garden in New York for attracting the best music shows.

“This has been the ride of a lifetime,” Welts said. “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.”

Welts — the first openly gay executive in the NBA and major men's professional sports — has spent 46 seasons in the NBA, beginning as a Seattle SuperSonics locker room attendant. He also worked for the Phoenix Suns.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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