'Very, Very Courageous': Rick Welts On Jason Collins | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

'Very, Very Courageous': Rick Welts On Jason Collins

One of the more interesting reactions to Jason Collins' announcement took place early Monday on a road in northern California.

That's where Rick Welts was driving to work. Welts is the president of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. In 2011, when he was with the Phoenix Suns, Welts became the first major sports executive to come out. So naturally, as he puts it, his phone "started blowing up" Monday after the Collins story broke.

And it almost cost him. A lot.

As Welts drove on that northern California road, a state trooper pulled Welts over for driving and talking on his cell.

"You got me," Welts told the cop, "but there's a funny story that goes with this. We had a player announce he was gay today." The officer asked who it was. Welts told him about Collins; whereupon the officer said to Welts, "So how's that going for YOU?" Welts said, "It's going pretty well." But not as well as when the trooper told Welts: "You've got a free pass today!"

So Welts' first thank you to Collins on Monday was for the $200 ticket he avoided.

Welts told the story at an impromptu press conference with Bay Area reporters. He said he's very proud of Collins, calling what the basketball player did "very, very courageous."

Welts said he's happy for Collins because "he'll be able to be the complete Jason Collins every day for the rest of his life" — a completeness Welts has felt since his public admission two years ago. He says he hopes Collins has an experience similar to his; Welts says there's really been nothing negative following his announcement in 2011.

"I think if kind of defies logic," Welts says, "but of the thousands and thousands of people who reached out to me through emails or texts or letters, I did not get one truly negative response."

Welts says attitudes in this country are shifting quickly. He notes LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 in 2011 for using an anti-gay slur during a game; Monday, Bryant was one of the first to tweet a positive message to Collins:

Collins is a free agent, and Welts says if Collins gets another job in the NBA, it'll be because of his basketball abilities.

"I think that's where we (pro sports) are," Welts says. "We've been lagging behind society, and I think we caught up today."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Living Small In The City: With More Singles, Micro-Housing Gets Big

Single people represent the fastest growing category of households in the U.S. That's made small dwellings — from micro-apartments to stand-alone tiny houses, a niche force in the real estate market.
NPR

Don't Be Fooled By The Fishy Ingredients: This Burger Is Delicious

Chef Marcus Samuelsson has a ritual whenever he travels to a new place — ask the cabdriver, "Where do you eat?" When he did that on a trip to Barbados, he fell in love with a fish sandwich.
WAMU 88.5

Hogan Refutes Claims That His Charter-School Bill Is A Union Buster

More than half of the state's 47 charter schools are located in Baltimore, and Hogan believes making it easier for more to open there — and elsewhere in Maryland — would help close the widening achievement gap between white students and students of color.
NPR

FCC Approves New Rules Intended To Protect Open Internet

The Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines — 3 to 2 — to approve new net neutrality rules that would regulate access to the Internet more like a public utility.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.