The newspaper reported on its Web site Sunday that Welts discussed his plans to reveal his sexual orientation with NBA Commissioner David Stern last month in New York.
Though they had never talked about it, Stern had long known Welts was gay. He offered his support to his friend and as they wound up their meeting, they hugged, the Times said.
Welts, 58, who has spent 40 years in sports, starting as a ball boy, had already shared the information with Hall of Fame player Bill Russell, and Val Ackerman of the WNBA, the Times said.
Besides being true to himself, Welts told the newspaper he wants to break through the taboo of discussing homosexuality in men's team sports and to be a mentor to gays in sports.
"This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits," Welts said. "Nobody's comfortable in engaging in a conversation."
Dr. Richard Lapchick, founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, said he recognizes how difficult a subject homosexuality is in men's sports.
"The fact that there's no other man who has done this before speaks directly to how hard it must be for Rick to do this now," he said.