Golden State Warriors President and COO Rick Welts discusses when and how the NBA realized the value in marketing the uniqueness of their players over the brand of the teams and how that has benefited the league to this day.
- The WNBA has been so proactive and they've set such a standard for what can be done. What do you think the future holds in the NBA in this regard?
RICK WELTS: Well, I think we have to continue doing good work. This is a job unfinished, right? So not every single NBA team has a Pride Night. We've had 'em for many years. In fact, we had Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird getting referred to a lot in this program at our last pride celebration. I'm out there trying as much as I can to get it in forums like this, where we can talk about this and we can engage people on it.
I just think the NBA has a great history of celebrating individuality and its players. I actually trace it back to the 1980s, when we first went to NBC with our broadcast rights. And Dick Ebersol and David Stern started talking about how better to promote our game. And it was in that moment that we moved away from promoting Lakers versus Celtics on Sunday afternoon to Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson on Sunday afternoon, and realized that we kind of ceded to the players and acknowledged that that's what people care about.
Their stories are so compelling, and they're really interesting, complicated people who have opinions on things way beyond basketball. And that embrace, I think, has gone on from the '80s to today. I'm so proud of what happened in Orlando. So I just think we keep at it. We keep talking about it and we try to get 10% better every year.