Where does Masai Ujiri rank among league executives?


Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors – Masai Ujiri (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

Toronto Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri has long contended for a spot among the NBA’s elite executives. After a championship title, he’s now in rarefied air.

For many years, the Toronto Raptors were an afterthought, an expansion team north of the border seemingly destined to toil in mediocrity and irrelevance. From 1995 until 2013, the Raptors lacked a clear organizational vision and suffered numerous playoff-less seasons to go with some acrimonious cases involving player relations.

Sure, there were quite a few good players to don the purple and red – Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, Tracy McGrady, and others come to mind – but these figures all came during a time when the front office was unprepared to translate individual greatness into team success. Assembling talent at a contending level in Toronto was a feat unheard of prior to the arrival of Masai Ujiri.

Transforming this ugly caterpillar of a franchise (awesome Dino jerseys notwithstanding) into the championship-winning butterfly that it now represents, took Ujiri all of six seasons to accomplish. Since his arrival, the Raptors have never failed to make the playoffs, and have won the Atlantic Division five years out of six (a feat the franchise had only managed once in the previous 18 years).

This past season, Ujiri took his executive game to a whole new level, and the Raptors now have their first-ever NBA championship to show for it. Seemingly unafraid of public perception, the very same man that once yelled [Expletive] BROOKLYN” rolled the dice last summer, trading beloved franchise icon DeMar DeRozan for eventual Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

Controversial at the time, his boldness nonetheless paid off in a big way and inspired the very article you are reading. It was the kind of move that turns good executives into great ones, and great execs into legends.

So without further ado, let’s see where the current Toronto Raptors president ranks among the league’s top executives.