Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raptors President Masai Ujiri on Contract Extension: 'Toronto Is Home to Me'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raptors President Masai Ujiri on Contract Extension: 'Toronto Is Home to Me'

Article excerpt

Ujiri on staying with Raptors: 'Toronto is home'


TORONTO - The decision to sign a multi-year extension with the Toronto Raptors was an easy one for Masai Ujiri.

Coming off of the franchise's most successful season ever certainly helped. But the city itself made the choice to stay put a no-brainer for the club's president.

"I love it here. I really do. Toronto is home for me," Ujiri said in an interview this week at his office overlooking the courts at the Raptors' training facility. "We don't go to another home in the States or somewhere else. This is our home. And I love the organization, I think they've treated me well. They've given it their all. It's humbling for me for them to come to me and say: 'Hey, let's do this.' And then the city, the fans, everybody -- what else can you ask for?"

Under his new deal, which was announced Sept. 2, Ujiri continues to oversee basketball operations as club president, with Jeff Weltman assuming the general manager title Ujiri previously held. Bobby Webster was also named assistant general manager and vice-president basketball strategy.

The Raptors have captured three consecutive Atlantic Division titles and had three straight seasons of franchise-high wins, including 56 victories last season when they lost to the eventual NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference final.

"We have 10 players who are 25 years and younger. We are a growing team," said Ujiri. "To build a winning culture, you are going to have to prove yourself. You are going to have to go and grind it out.

"The last time I checked there were 29 teams that did not win last year -- and we were one of them. And so the goal is to win."

The core of last year's team remains intact, led by guards Kyle Lowry and recently re-signed DeMar DeRozan.

"What an unbelievable year for both of them," Ujiri said of the duo. "They're all-stars, they get to the Eastern Conference finals, they're gold medallists (with the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team. …

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