Raptors defeated Golden State 114-110 to be crowned champions on Thursday, becoming the first league champion from outside the United States by dethroning the defending titleholders.
The architect of the Canadian team’s surprise victory is Nigerian Basketball administrator, Masai Ujiri.
Ujiri was born in Bournemouth, England, where his parents were studying. With the family moving back to Nigeria when he was two years old, he grew up in Zaria, Nigeria.
Ujiri’s father, a hospital administrator and nursing educator, was an Isoko from Aviara in Delta state, while his mother, a doctor, is Kenyan, of the Kamba people to be specific, from Machakos.
On May 31, 2013, Ujiri signed a 5-year, $15 million deal to become general manager of the Toronto Raptors, replacing Colangelo in that capacity.
One of his first moves as Raptors GM was to trade away Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks. On September 2, 2016 the Toronto Raptors extended Ujiri’s contract as the team’s president, and their faith in him has finally paid off.
Nigerians including the immediate past Senate President Bukola Saraki, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and other top basketball fans have taken to Twitter to commend the efforts of the Nigerian.
See some of the reactions below:
Congratulations to Masai Ujiri and the Toronto @Raptors on becoming the 2018/19 #NBAChampions! The years of hard work and long-term planning that was put into building this team has finally paid off! #NBAFinals https://t.co/MGpAvG9CbL pic.twitter.com/3g870QwqA8
— Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki (@bukolasaraki) June 14, 2019
Toronto Raptors win NBA Championship and make history! Masai Ujiri, President of Toronto Raptors is a Nigerian and Kenyan. He brings glory to Africa. Africa shines! Africa is so proud of you! Great job my friend!🙌🏼👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/pV1iJgknxm
— Akinwumi A. Adesina (@akin_adesina) June 14, 2019
So proud of this brother and son of the African soil, Masai Ujiri. He always believed he could and now he is…..described by many as the shrewdest minds in the NBA. Today he's lead Toronto to its first NBA title. History made!! Take a bow @UjiriMasai 🔥👏🏼#nbafinals pic.twitter.com/nejHtJw3Ew
— robertmarawa (@robertmarawa) June 14, 2019
Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors for winning the NBA World Championship! To Raptors ownership, GM Masai Ujiri, the coaches and the players led by MVP Kawhi Leonard and leader Kyle Lowry, congratulations!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 14, 2019
🏀Toronto Raptors the 2019 NBA Champions, Kawhi Leonard the finals MVP, Nick Nurse the winning coach but Masai Ujiri 🇳🇬 is the ultimate MVP🏀
👉 Sacked Dwane Casey (2018 coach of the year) appointed Nick Nurse
👉 Traded DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard and the rest is history👋 pic.twitter.com/Wx4glNFMyj
— NetBet Nigeria (@Netbet_NG) June 14, 2019