The Toronto Raptors had just hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time in history as the architect of the 2019 NBA champions, team president Masai Ujiri, soaked it all in from his spot stage left of the makeshift platform at centre court of Oracle Arena.
For Ujiri, the moment was the culmination of a six-year roller-coaster ride in which his messaging remained consistent — even if the results were anything but — and a moment of pure validation if there ever was one.
Since taking the Raptors’ general manager gig back in 2013, he hadn’t been shy about his goals in Toronto and what he’s been building toward: A title — and not simply making the Finals, but winning it all.
“We’ve been growing, and trying to prove to the world that there’s a meaning to having one NBA team outside the U.S.,” an emotional Ujiri told Doris Burke. “We wanted to win in Toronto, and we’ve won in Toronto.”
So… now what?
Roughly around the same time Ujiri made his victory speech to a global hoops audience, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported “sources” indicated the Washington Wizards were in hot pursuit of the newly crowned champion executive.