Rick Welts

Warriors president Rick Welts weds partner in ceremony at SF City Hall

Warriors president Rick Welts weds partner in ceremony at SF City Hall

Eight years after telling the world that he is gay, Warriors president Rick Welts has tied the knot.

Welts announced Friday that he married Todd Gage in a ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.

San Francisco mayor London Breed officiated the wedding.

According to Welts' post, he and Gage have been together for nine years.

Shortly after the Warriors lost to the Clippers on Friday night in Los Angeles, coach Steve Kerr took time to send a tweet to Welts.

A few months after he came out as gay in a New York Times article, Welts was hired by the Warriors as the president and chief operating officer.

[RELATED: Stern's legacy not lost on Welts]

Welts has been an instrumental part of the Warriors' success over the last nine years, helping the team appear in five straight NBA Finals, win three championships and open Chase Center in San Francisco.

By saying the words "I do," Welts registered another big win Friday.

David Stern's NBA legacy not lost on Warriors' Steve Kerr, Rick Welts

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AP

David Stern's NBA legacy not lost on Warriors' Steve Kerr, Rick Welts

The NBA is in a much different place because of David Stern's tenure as commissioner, and the Warriors' brain trust is well-aware of his impact. 

Stern, who served as commissioner from 1984 until passing the reins to Adam Silver on Feb. 1, 2014, died Wednesday as a result of a brain hemorrhage he suffered late last month. He was 77. 

"Well, I think David Stern made a bigger impact on the game than any non-player in the history of the NBA," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in a video the team published on Twitter on Wednesday. "When I think about -- when he took over as commissioner in the early '80s -- where the league was ... and to think where it is now, David Stern really led the expansion of the league, and he had the vision to set the league on a course to where it is today."

Formerly the league's executive vice president, Stern succeeded Larry O'Brien at a time when the NBA still tape-delayed broadcasts of certain games. Just over six months after Stern retired, the NBA signed a national television contract with ESPN and Turner Sports worth $24 billion. 

The NBA added seven teams and also created a professional women's league (WNBA) and a developmental league (G League) during Stern's reign. The league's international footprint grew exponentially under Stern's watch, as the NBA prioritized making inroads on multiple contents.

Without that global focus, it's incredibly hard to imagine an NBA executive's comments on geopolitical issues 30 years ago making international news in the manner that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's did in October when he tweeted support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong against the Chinese government. 

[RELATED: How Stern changed dynamic of what league commissioner could be]

Rick Welts, the Warriors' chief operating officer who worked with Stern in the NBA's league office for nearly 20 years, said: "it's really hard to imagine a world without David Stern."

"His 30-year term as commissioner [and] his work before really created the foundation that we have enjoyed today as the successful NBA that we are," Welts said. "For me personally, we're talking about somebody who was my mentor. I used to joke that my greatest success in my life was directly reporting to David Stern for 17 years and living to tell about it because it was some days an amazing challenge.

"I had a complicated relationship with him, like everybody else, but at the end of the day, he was a friend. He was a mentor, and his inspiration, creative genius, innovation, ingenuity are the things that really created the NBA that we know today."

Warriors named 'Franchise of the Decade' by Sports Business Journal

Warriors named 'Franchise of the Decade' by Sports Business Journal

SAN FRANCISCO -- Warriors president Rick Welts stood on a makeshift stage tucked atop Oakland's Downtown Marriott in November 2011 with a proclamation for a team that just hired him. 

"Everyone in the NBA, as I'm sure you know, looks at this franchise as really the sleeping giant," he proclaimed. 

Eight years later, Welts sat more comfortably in a grey tailored suit, minus a tie, on the second floor of the Bay Bridge Club. The exclusive lair -- inside a corridor of the NBA's newest $1.6 billion palace called Chase Center -- is reserved for team shareholders and special guests, giving a direct view of the three Larry O'Brien trophies the Warriors have earned during his tenure, along with a reminder of his statement nearly a decade ago across the Bay.  

"We're feeling pretty evolved today," Welts says as he nestles into his soft blue seat on Sunday night, prior to the Warriors' blowout loss against the Sacramento Kings.

On Monday morning, the Warriors were named Sports Business Journal's "Franchise of the Decade," a nod to the team's five NBA Finals appearances on the way to becoming one of the most valuable franchises in sports. 

"I wish I was smart enough to really picture the success that was going to come," Welts said Sunday. "What I knew that everybody observed the NBA from a distance knew was that all the ingredients were here for this franchise to be one of the great franchises." 

Seeds of Golden State's current business model were planted 28 miles south in the affluent community of Atherton, inside team chairman Joe Lacob's Spanish style estate. Welts -- the first openly gay executive in professional sports -- was looking to move to the West Coast from the Phoenix Suns, closer to his partner in nearby Sacramento. 

"The Warriors were not even on my radar screen," Lacob admitted. 

Two hours into their meeting, Welts was struck that Lacob never used the words "good" to describe his vision for the team's future, opting to use "great" when describing Golden State's expectations. As Lacob spoke, Welts' mind wandered about the business possibilities of the region. While the Warriors toiled in mediocrity for the previous 16 years, the Bay Area's economy was on the rise. 

When Lacob bought the team a year prior, Facebook -- located in nearby Menlo Park -- announced 500 million users, setting a valuation of $41 billion. With tech giants Google, Twitter and Apple nearby, the region's economy was set to rise out of the Great Recession. All the while, the team kept losing, becoming the NBA's hidden gem. 

"You don't find that combination of things may be anywhere other than New York City, maybe Los Angeles," Welts said. "But, we had never as an organization been able to put that together in a way that achieved great success on the court and off the court." 

The organization's first task was to phase out the culture of old. In the ensuing years, nearly half of its 200 employees left, making way for the 500-person staff today to change the company's mindset.

"We had a culture of losing in the locker room and we had a culture of losing in the rest of the organization and kind of everybody felt okay," Welts said. "Season would end in mid-April and everybody gets a really nice summer vacation and everybody gets a raise and everybody come back and do it all over again the next year. It's pretty good.

"We had to turn that upside down." 

Over the next six years, the Warriors increased their revenue by nearly 1,000 percent, according to a team spokesman. For four consecutive seasons, they've led the NBA in merchandise sales, both online and in-arena. Last season, they led the NBA in total online engagements, racking up 7.5 billion total impressions. 

On the court, they were equally as dominant, going to five straight NBA Finals, winning three titles with a roster built around Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. 

However, the crown jewel of Golden State's run is the building Welts sat in Sunday afternoon: Chase Center. The $1.6 billion privately financed arena -- a nearly impossible ask in San Francisco -- already has secured $2 billion in tickets, suites and sponsorships, including JPMorgan Chase, United Airlines and Google.

But perhaps the most essential part of the business resides down the stairs, through the corridor and down the steps from Welts in the BioFreeze Performance Center. The athletic wing of the building is equipped with two practice courts, a weight room, sleep pods and a locker room featuring televisions in each player's stall. 

While business is boomin' in San Francisco, the team is in transition. With Durant departing for Brooklyn and the duo of Curry and Thompson out until at least the All-Star break, the Warriors have descended into the worst team in the league, a distinction Welts doesn't see the Warriors carrying for long. 

"I think recruiting players here going forward, we're going to beat 29 teams," Welts boasts. "And I admit, because the opportunity to live in the Bay Area, the opportunity to play at Chase Center and the opportunity to be surrounded by the businesses, that most 20 somethings look at as the most exciting enterprises going on in the United States right now, in front of these fans on a night in night out basis." 

Even as the Warriors reconcile the potential of another run, its current roster is thriving with the perks of the organizational infrastructure. Big man Omari Spellman shed 50 pounds last summer, posting career highs in points, rebounds and field goal percentage this season. Meanwhile, rookie forward Eric Paschall has cemented his place in the Rookie of the Year conversation. Guard D'Angelo Russell, 23, is progressing with Curry out, scoring a career-high 52 points last month while crediting the culture along the way. 

"I just think the quality of people. It's great people around here," Russell said about the Warriors. "They've been accustomed to winning, they're accustomed to bringing good people in. They just feel super jolly."

Russell -- who signed a four-year, $117 million last summer -- has been subjected to trade rumors since joining the team. Nonetheless, he says he wants to be a part of the team's future plans. 

"Of course," he added. "It's where I'm at now. Wherever I'm at now, I would want to be there long term." 

[RELATED: Welts joins "The Habershow" Podcast]

About an hour before game time, Welts gets up from his plush seats inside the club, walks down the dark brown stairs and greets some guests in the shadow of the three championship trophies, which serve as a reminder of the giant he's built and the one he'd like to maintain for the next decade and beyond. 

"I think we do it exactly the same way that we did to get here," he says. "Never take anything for granted. Every day starts out, you got to earn it all over again.

"But now it's about execution. Now we got to go do it."