The Toronto Raptors are trying to make sure they can retain the services of president Masai Ujiri as they try to make it back to the postseason. Given his expertise in building a roster and maintaining quality, he remains the perfect individual to potentially pull the Raptors out of the doldrums.
However, considering how his contract is up, there is not only a chance that Ujiri ends up leaving the Raptors for good in the offseason, but the possibility of him leaving for a job outside an NBA front office is very much in the cards. The NBA might have unknowingly given Ujiri the perfect platform.
The NBA has announced the creation of a new entity called NBA Africa, which will oversee the growth of the game on the continent and the neophyte Basketball Africa League. Players like Dikembe Mutumbo, Grant Hill, and Luol Deng have invested in the league.
Even with the impressive strides the NBA has made in growing the game here, they could use that one standout figure that can really take this league to the next level. If he leaves the Raptors, Ujiri could be that guy.
Could Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri run NBA Africa?
Ujiri, who spent most of his childhood in Zaria, Nigeria, already has experience trying to grow basketball and support a growing African basketball culture. His non-profit, Giants of Africa, has been making huge strides in this area. Ujiri, already the director of the Basketball Without Borders program, could be the perfect pseudo-commissioner for this venture.
He’s already won Executive of the Year, helped turn both Denver and Toronto into winners, and won a championship. He quite literally has nothing else to prove in the NBA. This venture would be new, but it could be something that further cements his name in the annals of basketball history. To me, this sounds a lot better than running the Wizards.
While the BAL is a tremendous step in the right direction, the NBA’s efforts in this area seem a bit loose and directionless, with a very short tournament standing out as the highlight of their efforts in this area.
Practically, Adam Silver or a delegate close to him can’t manage this venture, which will be immeasurably critical to the growth of the game, remotely from an office in New York. This league needs one person with the ethos to command this entity and experience in running similar programs, and Ujiri looks like an ideal fit.