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Ujiri Touts NBA Success With Raptors

Ujiri Touts NBA Success With Raptors

NBA’s first African-born vice president, Masai Ujiri has talking up his approach to the business and the future of basketball in Africa.

Ujiri, who is originally from Nigeria spoke the CNN about how his passion for basketball started.

“We were on our way to the soccer field and saw this guy shooting [basketballs] and the way he shot the ball and it was going right in and those basketball courts it was not a net, it was a chain,” Ujiri, told CNN.com.

“So, there were chains and it was just going Chas Chas and it was unbelievable the sound and all we wanted to do was shoot the ball and hear that Chas Chas.”

In Nigeria, Ujiri only picked up a basketball at 13 but would go on to play professionally until he discovered the joy in coaching job.

“I was playing in lower leagues in Europe and making a couple of thousand of dollars a month, where is this taking me? I don’t want this. Luckily for me, I fell into the coaching and the junior National team, the low gig of scouting and luckily, I got a break in the NBA,” he explained.

Ujiri would explain his motive for scouting players from Africa to improve his team.

“Well it started with African players. I started scouting African players,” he said

“We are looking at those long arms, we are looking at speed, we are looking at skill. I started trying to learn what the real NBA skill is and what you’re trying to find. And that’s a difficult thing too, trying to …

“We all think oh my God I just saw this guy, he’s an NBA player, he’s an NBA player.

“We lack the facilities in Africa. And so, it doesn’t give the kids a chance. I say that there is talent in Africa walking everywhere, it’s a gold mine.

“They need to see people like us, so they believe in themselves.

“At the end of the day, in my heart, you’re a scout. And one day you want to say, I found this Mutombo, or Pascal Siakam. You want that great player, you want to find somebody that’s just going to come and kill it.”

Ujiri also talked about his programme in Africa and why he is dedicated to charity.

“I feel that if I don’t help more youth, and more Africans to grow, more people to follow me. We need more General Managers. I need more youth, I need more people to see that it can be done,” he offered.

“Whether it’s coaching. Whether it’s scouting. Whether it’s playing, whatever it is, people can see that yes it can be done by an African. It’s something that I really take pride in.”

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