Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: #10, Masai Ujiri
President, Toronto Raptors
10Last season, under Ujiri’s leadership, the Raptors posted their best record in franchise history and exorcised the demons of first-round exits by making it to the conference finals, where they lost to the eventual champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. In February, Ujiri presided over Canada’s first NBA All-Star Game, a smashing success that forced the rest of the league to realize what many already knew: Toronto is a basketball city. His greatest off-season achievement was convincing DeMar DeRozan to stick around, breaking a sad pattern of stars leaving town (see Carter, Vince; Bosh, Chris). For his efforts, he was given a hefty raise and re-signed for a long-term contract.
Ujiri’s annual Giants of Africa event honouring Nelson Mandela drew NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, fast man Donovan Bailey, footballer Didier Drogba and supermodel Winnie Harlow. A documentary about the basketball summer camp that Ujiri runs for under-privileged youth in Africa premiered at TIFF in September.