The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that Golden State Warriors President & Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts and Player Development Consultant Steve Nash have been elected as part of the 13-member Class of 2018.
Welts, currently in his seventh season with the Warriors, owns over 40 years of NBA experience, including nine years as president of the Phoenix Suns, a 17-year stint (1982-1999) at the NBA league office in New York, and 10 years with the Seattle SuperSonics.
“No one is more deserving of this Hall of Fame recognition than Rick Welts,” said Warriors Owner & CEO Joe Lacob. “Rick provided our business operation with instant credibility upon his arrival in 2011 and set the tone for the new direction of the organization. He has left an immeasurable mark on the franchise—leading a group that has been named SportsBusiness Journal’s ‘Sports Team of the Year’ twice and nominated for the award in four of the last five years—and has been a tremendous advocate for the game of basketball in the many capacities he has served. His presence has helped boost our organization to new heights, just as it has at every stop throughout his decorated NBA career.”
Welts’ role in the league office culminated with his eventual ascension to the league’s third-in-command as the executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties. In addition to his overall contributions to the revitalization of the league’s image and popularity, his notable accomplishments at the NBA include the creation of NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984 as well as the marketing program for USA Basketball for the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.” Along with Val Ackerman, Welts was named “Marketer of the Year” by Brandweek in 1998 for his role in launching the WNBA.
“Rick’s tenure with the Warriors and the NBA has been defined by innovation and inclusivity,” said Warriors Owner Peter Guber. “From All-Star Weekend to the ‘Dream Team’ to the WNBA, his impressive résumé rivals that of any executive ever to work in the industry. He continues to add to it as the team prepares to open a world-class sports and entertainment venue, Chase Center, in 2019. He’s a Hall of Famer not only by virtue of his successes but also in the way that he leads and inspires people to achieve their own successes.”
A native of Seattle, Washington, Welts began his NBA career in 1969, at the age of 16, as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics. He spent 10 years with his hometown team serving a number of roles, including as the team’s director of public relations during back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals (1978 and 1979) and the SuperSonics’ lone NBA Championship in 1979. In 2006, he was the recipient of the annual Splaver/McHugh “Tribute to Excellence Award,” which is given annually by the NBA Public Relations Directors’ Association to a current or former member of the NBA PR family who has demonstrated an outstanding level of performance and service during their NBA career.
“Rick Welts has always been a Hall of Fame person, so it’s good to see him officially receive the recognition that he deserves for his contributions to the game of basketball,” said 11-time NBA Champion Bill Russell. “His impact on our sport from a business standpoint has been among the most impressive of any executive in the history of the NBA. Rick has dedicated his life to our game and I’ve witnessed his career with great admiration dating back to our days together with the Seattle SuperSonics, where his first work station as a kid was actually in the hallway, not the corner office we see today.”
Nash, now in his third season as a player development consultant for the Warriors, enjoyed a 19-year NBA playing career with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. An eight-time NBA All-Star, he won back-to-back MVP awards while with the Suns in 2004-05 and 2005-06, becoming just the 10th player in NBA history to win the award in consecutive seasons. The 6’3” point guard was a six-time All-NBA performer, garnering First Team recognition three times (2005, 2006, 2007), Second Team once (2008) and Third Team twice (2002, 2003). For his career, Nash averaged 14.3 points, 8.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 31.3 minutes per contest in 1,217 regular-season games. He also appeared in 120 playoff games, averaging 17.3 points and 8.8 assists.
A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Nash joined the Canadian National Team in 1991 and played collegiately at Santa Clara University. During his four-year career with the Broncos (1992-1996), he was a two-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year (1994-95, 1995-96) and finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in assists (510), free throw percentage (.862) and three point field goals (263), while ranking third on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,689). As a freshman, he helped lead 15th-seeded Santa Clara to an upset over #2 seed Arizona in the First Round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament.
“Steve Nash embodies what it means to be a Hall of Fame athlete, both on and off the court,” said Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. “His unique blend of talent and skill, combined with his charisma and cerebral approach to the game, contributed to his status as one of the defining players of a generation. He continues to make a global impact on the game through his many post-playing endeavors, including the invaluable perspective he provides us a consultant. I couldn’t be happier to see him, as well as my friend Rick Welts, receive this prestigious honor.”
The Class of 2018 also includes Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Lefty Driesell, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Dino Radja, Charlie Scott, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Rod Thorn and Ora Mae Washington.
The Class of 2018 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Mass. on Friday, September 7th.