To the shock of no one, Masai Ujiri has agreed to a multi-year contract extension to stay on as President of the Toronto Raptors. In related news, Jeff Weltman will be promoted to General Manager, and Bobby Webster will step up as Assistant General Manager/Vice-President Basketball Strategy (by far the coolest title).
Here’s the official announcement:
Since being named President and General Manager of the team on May 31, 2013, Ujiri has, to put it extremely mildly, done some good things. On the court, Masai managed to off-load every disastrous contract the Raptors had, bring in valuable assets, and oversee the longest sustained run of feel-good success the team has ever had, peaking (so far) as it has with the team’s trip to the Eastern Conference Finals last spring. (Damn good times.)
Just off the court, Masai (along with departed MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke) was instrumental in establishing the Raptors 905, the team’s valuable D-League affiliate. He also made the construction of a new off-site practice facility a priority, which exists now as the BioSteel Centre (a real beaut). And, oh yeah, Toronto hosted the NBA All-Star Game last season under his watch as King of Toronto hoops.
Further removed from the court, and just in case you were unconvinced Masai was worthy of the extension (you heathen, you), Ujiri also works valiantly with his foundation Giants of Africa to help promote the game of basketball in Africa and provide opportunities to children of his home continent. On the other side of all of this, Ujiri has also served as the director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program. I mean, what more could you ask for?
And just in case you were curious, Weltman originally joined the Raptors back in July of 2013 and has been in NBA management for years with the Clippers, Nuggets, Pistons and Bucks. Meanwhile, Webster, who also joined the team in July of 2013, came over from the league office and after advising all 30 NBA teams on matters regarding the CBA and the salary cap. We’re in good hands here, people.
Now some words from the two big cheeses of MLSE, first Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of the board:
“The gratitude and respect we hold for Masai and our Raptors senior management team are reflected in our Board’s action to extend Masai’s contract. We are excited to build on our team’s success and to give Masai our full support in delivering to our fans and to our country the Toronto Raptors’ first NBA championship.”
And then, from the CEO of MLSE, Michael Friisdahl:
“We take great pride in the strength of our senior leadership with MLSE’s teams and the Raptors are a prime example of that. Masai, Jeff and Bobby have done an outstanding job of not only building a winning Raptors organization but igniting a passion for this team with our fans in Toronto and across the country. The stability this move brings is important for the team and its fans and we look forward to building on the Raptors’ success under Masai’s continued leadership.”
If it wasn’t already clear, these moves signify not only a vote of confidence in Ujiri, his staff, and the direction they’ve taken the team, but can also be offered up as symbols to the broader NBA world.
Long removed from the up-and-down days of those initial seasons, the Raptors are now a stable, well-run franchise, ready to take the next step forward. Let’s get it.