Warriors executive can relate to Michael Sam 

Warriors President Rick Welts is one of the few people who knows what NFL draft prospect Michael Sam might be going through after announcing he is gay this week.

Welts, who became the first openly gay NBA executive when he revealed his sexual orientation in a front page story of The New York Times in May 2011 while with the Phoenix Suns, said he’s looking forward to the day such announcements are no longer a big deal. But he’s still not sure how far away that day is in sports.

“I think we’re still in the midst of it being a really big story,” Welts said. “And if you could ever pick somebody to play this part, I think the right guy is going to play it. Just watching him the last few days and seeing the confidence and how strongly he felt about what he decided to do, I think the NFL combine got a lot more interesting and I think the draft did, too.”

Sam, an All-America defensive end with Missouri who was the Southeastern Conference’s co-defensive player of the year, made his announcement Sunday night. He could become the first openly gay NFL player.

Count Welts among those rooting for Sam.

The Warriors executive recalled feelings of relief and joy in the days after his announcement. In the nearly three years since, Welts said the responses have been overwhelmingly positive, and he encourages others gay athletes to come out — when the time is right for them.

“I think it’s more opening that part of your life to people you really care about that you’ve chosen not to share,” Welts said. “And that’s hard when you care about the people you’re around and the people you work with, it’s hard not to be able to share that part of your life.”

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