It's not often you can look down on memory lane. Yet, for Rick Welts, it is easy to do from atop the Space Needle.
"The skyline has changed quite a bit," Welts said during a stroll on the Space Needle's observation deck last week as he looked at his old stomping grounds, including the historic and renovated Queen Anne High School.
"We had some pretty spectacular views from Mr. Castle's science class," Welts quipped.
He used to walk from school down the hill to the old Seattle Center Coliseum. Welts started as a ball boy at age 16 for the Seattle Supersonics, before embarking on a personal and professional journey that came full circle on Oct. 5. The now Golden State Warriors team president was instrumental in bringing the NBA back to Seattle for one night, the last event at the current KeyArena.
RELATED: KeyArena renovations approved
"Any excuse. Everyone in the NBA misses Seattle, and no one more than me," said the 65-year-old executive while flashing the 1979 Sonics Championship ring. He can talk wistfully of runs to Dag's Burgers, or the old Stan Boreson show at KING TV.
Welts quickly rose up the ranks of the Sonics, first to assistant trainer. He became the communications director for the franchise at 26. They won the title while he held the position.
A few years later, a young New York attorney recruited him to the NBA league office. That attorney, David Stern, would later be promoted to NBA Commissioner. Welts became a Vice President.
Welts is credited with creating NBA All Star Weekend, marketing, and raising the league's profile through the 80's and early 90's. He calls Stern “ a friend, a mentor,” pausing, “he's got a couple blemishes on the resume - one would be the Sonics leaving Seattle."
Welts would later become a trailblazer on his own terms, becoming the first executive in men's professional sports to publicly acknowledge he is gay. That was before he led the Warriors to three NBA titles.
RELATED: A supersonic goodbye to KeyArena
It's a resume that his peers and colleagues admire, so much so he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
"It would be so far fetched to even say that was a dream," Welts said, looking back at his old Queen Anne haunts.
It's been a remarkable journey for the kid from Magnolia, and he knows the story isn't over yet. He’s currently tasked with helping the Warriors transition to a shiny new arena in San Francisco in 2019.
Welts spent the weekend in Seattle. He says he looks forward to coming back for another NBA game in the near future.
"I think it's inevitable we have a team back in Seattle, everybody in the league misses Seattle terribly, knows what a great market this would be, again for NBA basketball," says Welts, "The Sonics will be a huge part of my life."