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deaner
Hey Masai. Can I put my wish list here?

Roster:

Val Biz Bebe
L Sanders, Pat, Dragon Bender
Carroll, JJ, Bruno
Demar, DeColo, Powell
Lowry, Cory, Delon.

Revisit coaching. The offense must change. I know you know that. Stackhouse out. Look to add a: Shane Batier, Steve Nash, Mike Malone. Add a big man coach/Magloire out. Also add a shooting coach.

Is there any way to influence the broadcast division? Leo out? Anthony Parker in? Add a female sideline?
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gurk
http://pmd.fan590.com/audio_on_demand-4/Masai-Ujiri-with-Joey-Vendetta-jb-20160824-Interview.mp3

Masai on fan 590, talks about GOA, Raptors at olympics, new jerseys and more
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JeffB
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LX
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elT
Gotta love Masai! 
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'trane
elT wrote:
Gotta love Masai! 


ain't that the truth
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DocHolliday
I'm sure it was posted somewhere but liked it and posted anyways [biggrin]

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Ujiri on DeRozan’s training with Olajuwon, 4-point line, Caboclo

 
 
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Warriors' Durant praises Raptors rebounding and shot making
 

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant spoke with Eric Smith following the Golden State Warriors 117-112 victory against the Toronto Raptors Wednesday

Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri made a guest appearance on the Bill Simmons Podcast on Wednesday. Over a sprawling, hour-long conversation, Ujiri, the first and only non-American to win Executive of the Year, covered a wide range of basketball-related topics, from his rise up the front office ranks, to present and future NBA trends, the struggles in Bruno Caboclo’s development, and how DeMar DeRozan‘s footwork became the envy of the league.

Here are some quotes and takeaways from the interview:

Adam Silver’s advice kept Ujiri in an NBA front office

Ujiri and Silver, the NBA commissioner, have a friendship that dates back to his earliest days in the league, when Ujiri was volunteering his time scouting for the Orlando Magic. As Ujiri rose up the ranks with the Denver Nuggets and eventually took a job as the Raptors assistant GM working under Bryan Colangelo, he wanted a change of scenery, and prepared to take a job working with at the NBA’s office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Silver told him not to take the job, warning that he’d be missing a big opportunity and that the posting in Johannesburg would still be there for him later in his career if he wanted it. One month later, Ujiri said, the Denver Nuggets contacted him to interview for their general manager position, which he got and where he established himself as one of the brightest minds in the league.

Hakeem Olajuwon helped hone DeRozan’s world-class footwork at his ranch in Houston

“When I think of footwork,” said Ujiri, “I think of Hakeem.” And for good reason. The Hall of Famer made a career out of exposing defenders with his next-level footwork, and in his retirement has hosted numerous players for private one-on-one workouts. Ujiri has sent many of his players to work with the legendary centre, including Jonas Valanciunas, JaVale McGee, and DeRozan.

“He has this gym in Houston, I don’t know if you know, in the middle of nowhere basically,” Ujiri said. “He has this gym, and you go on. … It’s so absurd, it’s on a ranch or something. Inside it’s just the echoes of a ball and there’s this big picture of his jersey. … He just teaches, and it’s incredible how he teaches.”

Earlier this summer on Simmons’ podcast, reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant said DeRozan has the best footwork in the NBA, and it seems Ujiri agrees.

“In this era now, DeMar has kind of mastered it in a way that is unique. People pay attention to it.”

“[The NBA] will change again”

Ujiri and the Raptors have made a conscious effort to adapt to today’s NBA, and currently rank second in the league in three-pointers attempted at 36 per game — more than any single-game mark the team reached all of last season. But he knows this, too, will likely soon pass.

 
 
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Ujiri talks about the rise of super teams and not overreacting

“It’s a copycat league,” Ujiri said more than a few times over the course of the interview. He mentioned how verticality — a term made popular when Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers reached the Eastern conference Finals back in 2013 before small ball became the movement it is today — was a popular trend, and how quickly that changed. “It’s just a matter of time” before the league heads in another direction from what we’re seeing today, he said.

In Denver, he recalled, he’d often ask head coach George Karl: “’We have two great big men, why are we playing a shooting four, and playing smaller when we’re playing [Andrew] Bynum and [Pau] Gasol?’ George would play Al Harrington, for instance, and stretch the floor and trying those things. But we never won a championship. Phoenix played that way [too] and came close.

“We’re a trendy league, a copycat league,” he said. “We just go with the waves.”

A four-point shot would be “interesting” in the NBA

Speaking of charting what’s next in the NBA, Ujiri mentioned that the notion of a four-point shot could be interesting, and that his team is constantly trying to be ahead of the curve in terms of mapping future trends.

When I was at the Raptors practice facility late in the summer, the Raps’ assistant general manager and VP of player personnel, Dan Tolzman, told me that he and Ujiri had been discussing the possibility of the league extending the three-point line further out, particularly in the corners. If there is a radical change like that in the NBA’s future, there’s a safe chance that Ujiri & Co. had already at the very least discussed it at one point or another.

“We think [Bruno Caboclo] is close, but it’s still a process”

Always a popular — and contentious — topic in Raptorland, the drafting of Caboclo came up early in the conversation (albeit as a pseudo-setup to a discussion on Giannis Antetokounmpo and striking rich via the draft). Ujiri explained what he saw in Caboclo, what he may have done differently, and why the absence of a D-League team at the time of the draft may have set the Brazilian back:

“We saw the shooting ability, and then you see the length — a seven-foot-seven wingspan — and a kid who is passionate about the game,” Ujiri explained. “Sometimes I wonder if I should have left him longer [in Brazil], to develop him a little bit more. But sometimes [there] they don’t concentrating on weights, on him getting stronger. We’ve concentrated on that, and it’s still been a long process.

“We didn’t have a D-League team for a couple of years, so when you’re buried it was difficult for him to play anywhere. You can shoot all you want and develop all you want [but] if you’re not playing games … it’s a work in progress. It has to get to a point where you say ‘Are you doing this, or are you not?’ Do you have to move on from it? He’s close. We think he’s close, but it’s still a process.”

On management advice

Simmons, who had to oversee a staff group for the first time in his career at Grantland and again at The Ringer, asked Ujiri what advice he would give for those in a similar position, and his answer was fairly profound:

“Be more passionate than ambitious,” Ujiri said.

He quickly added: “And hire women,” before explaining the importance of bringing women into management roles. If you didn’t like Ujiri before…

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LX
https://theathletic.com/216308/2018/01/19/sohi-masai-ujiri-broadens-raptors-worldview-through-meritocracy/

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Raptors GM Masai Ujiri is a man of mystery. He is the shadowy figure constantly presiding over the Air Canada Centre, though you wouldn’t know it unless you’re walking in the back-end hallways at event level, or catch a glimpse of him from the angle inside the Raptors locker room that betrays a view into of the Raptors’ kitchen — or that’s what I think it is, at least. He doesn’t do the media rounds very often, and as you all well know, nothing ever leaks.

The question this off-season, of whether the Raptors would tear everything down or bring the team back for another run, could not be aided by any knowledge of the man in charge. At any moment, one feels he is liable to do anything, whether it’s dropping F-bombs at Maple Leaf Square, or delivering an impassioned defence in response to U.S. President Donald Trump calling Haiti and African nations “shithole countries.”

Which brings us to today’s topic: Ujiri, who was born in Nigeria and immigrated to the U.S. to play college basketball, considers himself “living testimony” to the infrastructure and potential of his home country, which is probably why felt so impassioned to respond. “If I grew up in a shithole,” he put it, “I’m proud of my shithole.”

What he also revealed — and has been revealing — is part of his own worldview, and how it informs his decision-making process. There are multiple layers of offence to be taken to Trump’s comments. The part that Ujiri spoke to? The fact that Trump’s comments repudiated the idea that greatness can’t be found there. In his eyes, it seems, greatness can be found anywhere. The Raptors have strained, more than many NBA franchises, to emphasize diversity in their hiring practices, and you could hear that notion emphasized in lockstep with each initiative.

Take his comments on The Bill Simmons Podcast, when Simmons asked for his best management advice. “Hire women. I’m not just saying it. There’s something about them that brings us to a level that where we think better. Our egos start to get in crazy places. I have a couple that work for me, and they’re really, really good. Brutally honest, very good, very level-headed. And they just have a good way of putting things in perspective.”

His comments echoed, in large part, what Kyle Lowry said about the locker room vibe during last year’s playoffs. “Honestly, the mix of cultures and countries and backgrounds and languages,” he told reporters. “You got Bruno and Lucas speaking Portuguese. You got JV on the phone, Lithuanian. Cory, speaking Patois. You got all type of stuff going on. It just brings us all together.”

Embracing diversity, in the eyes of the Raptors, isn’t an altruistic action that sacrifices an edge. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: a market inefficiency being exploited. “You're sensitive to other things, says head coach Dwane Casey, “because in your front office, you have a woman, you have a person from this country, that country. You have a worldly view of people and how they approach things. It does help, having a diverse organization, coaching staff, team.”

When asked about any potential advantage the Raptors have over other franchises, Casey was quick to point out that the NBA as a whole is becoming more diverse, that the Raptors aren’t necessarily tapping into a new market. While Casey is right about the NBA being more progressive than other major sports leagues, the truth is that the Raptors are ahead of the curve. Between the Raptors and the Raptors 905, Toronto employs eleven women. That figure won’t make you jump out of your seat, but it far surpasses your average franchise. MLSE has also organized a series of panels, dubbed “She The North” to bring together like-minded women and empower them to pursue careers in sports.

“In hiring,” Ujiri said on Wednesday, prior to the Raptors’ win against Detroit, “we’ve shown that we’re all inclusive in everything that we do, whether it’s women, blacks, whites, however we do it. I just look at people for how good they are, the talent that they bring, and winning. To me, we have to be winning people. We have to have that mentality, if you want to succeed in this business.” Worth mentioning: Wednesday was also You Can Play night, an initiative promoting the inclusion of LGBT fans and athletes.

Ujiri is, at his core, an unwavering supporter of one of sports most fundamental ideas: meritocracy. To him, it’s not a matter of making token diversity hires. It’s about widening to the talent pool in order to give the Raptors the best chance at capturing someone special. It’s a ruthless dedication to better understanding the world, to coming at difficult problems with a unique lens. There is a straight-forward, bottom-line logic to fairness, and the Raptors see it.


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DocHolliday
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Raptors President Masai Ujiri was emotional in explaining how a woman changed the course of his career in basketball management. He expressed how he might not be where he is today without the help of Kim Bohuny, the NBA’s Senior Vice President of International Basketball Operations. “Kim is the reason I’m here, OK?” Ujiri said while choking up. “So, 15 years ago, I got a phone call from Kim Bohuny, and she asked me to come to be director of Basketball Without Borders. My life changed. Today, I’m the President of the Toronto Raptors. I was an unpaid scout when I got that call from Kim Bohuny, so here are some women that are changing lives, and changed this life right here.”
 
– via The Athletic
Storyline: Raptors Front Office
Ujiri has entrusted women with roles in Toronto’s front office. When he became general manager in Toronto, his first call was to Teresa Resch, who had worked with him on the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders camps while she was at the league office. She was promoted to Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Development in 2015. “That right there is the Toronto Raptors, right there,” Ujiri said, pointing to Resch as the audience clapped for her. “We talked about lifting women, we talked about believing in women, and when we went out and made a lot of hires, we did not hire them because they were women. We hired them because they were the best. They were the best candidates for the job, and that’s what they serve as, and they stand up tall, and they lead the Toronto Raptors. And we listen to them. Teresa is the chief of staff. Everything she says goes.”
 
– via The Athletic
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LX

I started my day with this a couple days back. Made it a good day. Been a pretty good week even. Damn.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/masai-ujiri-metro-morning-interview-1.5382053

 

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