General Manager of the Denver Nuggets, Masai Ujiri, has been named as the Executive of the Year for the 2012-2013 season.
Ujiri, who is the first African-born general manager in major American sports, was the brains behind a well-balanced Nuggets’ roster, a squad that won 57 games, the most in Denver’s NBA history. The Denver Nuggets went on to finish third in the Western Conference, and although they lost in the first round of the Playoffs to the Golden State Warriors, it was an impressive season for a squad without a major superstar. Speaking at his press conference after receiving his award, Ujiri was quoted as saying…
“This is a team sport, a team game. It’s about all of us and bringing all of us together to try and achieve a championship, which for me is a bigger trophy. That’s the goal in Denver. That’s what we want to do here.”
A long way from his hometown of Zaria, Nigeria, Ujiri was part of the Coaching Staff for the Nigerian Junior teams between 2002-2007, he also served as an Assistant to Coach John Lucas for the 2009 African Championship for Men in Libya. His work in endorsing basketball development programs in Africa such as Basketball Without Borders and various camps in Africa is unprecedented, a large number of players have gone through these programs to earn scholarships’ to top division one programs in America..
“The NBA has done a great job of spreading the word and giving us a chance to do what we do in Africa and develop the game there,” he said. “I have to produce (in the NBA). By producing and winning, that will change things over there.
Despite Ujiri’s recent accomplishments, the former NBA scout remains humble and committed to improving the fortunes of the Denver Nuggets franchise, he realises that there is still more work to be done behind the scenes, however, there is no doubt that the foundation he has laid will open the door for more accolades for the young GM in the near future.