Blog Entry

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?

Posted on: August 26, 2010 11:23 am
"" Posted by Royce Young

And the man tasked with figuring out what the heck to do with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith is... Masai Ujiri!

Ujiri has reportedly been hired by the Nuggets to replace Mark Warkentein and is likely set to sign a contract sometime today. Most haven't heard of him, other than the past few weeks when his name started popping up for this position. But Ujiri got his start in scouting and slowly climbed the front office ranks before finally landing the big chair in Denver.

But who is he and what has he done? A quick look at his background:
  • First the most important thing about Ujiri: How do you say his name? It's pronounced "Ma-SIGH u-JEER-e".
  • Ujiri comes to Denver from Toronto, where he has spent the last three years in the front office as an executive. As assistant general manager to Bryan Colangelo, Ujiri was a key in the Raptors utilizing international players like Carlos Delfino, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.
  • Ujiri is a native of Zaria, Nigeria and has played an active role there in promoting basketball. He started the well-known Top 50 Bigman Camp eight years ago and also served as a director for the NBA's Basketball Without Borders Africa program. Solomon Alabi, who was a draftee of Toronto this past year, was a participant in the the camp.
  • It could be important that Ujiri is a former employee of the Nuggets.  Ujiri was with Denver from 2003 to 2007 and previously served as an unpaid scout for the Orlando Magic in 2002-03. With both the Nuggets and Magic, Ujiri served primarily as an international scout. Most people say Ujiri already has a good relationship with Carmelo Anthony, which obviously is Ujiri's No. 1 priority.
  • So if you're wondering, no Ujiri was not responsible for the Nuggets disatrous pick of Nikoloz Tskitishvili in 2002 because he was still working for Orlando at that time. You cna exhale now, Nuggets fans.
  • Ujiri went to prep school in Seattle, went to junior college in North Dakota, played college basketball at Montana State, then spent six years playing professionally in Europe, with stops in Belgium, Germany, England, Greece and Finland. So you could say Ujiri is well-traveled.
  • He's young. At just 39, Ujiri is one of the younger general managers in the league. He's not the most qualified GM in terms of experience, but most agree in the basketball world that he's a bright, upcoming front office star.
  • Obviously Ujiri is going to be seen as Plan B by most since David Griffin turned down the Nuggets job, but Ujiri was on Denver's radar from the very beginning. His ties to Denver obviously helped, but the Nuggets have been interested in expanding their international scouting and Ujiri obviously has expertise in that area. 
  • In an interview with about Basketball Without Borders, Ujiri said this about the growth of international basketball: "You cannot miss it. There's no running away from it. You have to cover everywhere. Basketball globally has gotten better, the skill level has gotten better. What some of the international kids are doing in the NBA is amazing."
Before, Warkentein shared power with Rex Chapman and Bret Bearup, so nobody really knows exactly how much Ujiri will be in control of in Denver. Maybe that was one of the hangups with David Griffin. But the Nuggets are in the midst of a complete shift as former owner Stan Kroenke passed the team to his son Josh, who is only 30 years old. So the Nuggets are young in the front office for sure and by most accounts, in good hands with Ujiri.
Category: NBA

Since: Aug 29, 2010
Posted on: August 29, 2010 1:09 am

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?

He played at Bismarck State College (North Dakota), for two years, and was only at Montana State-Billings for the fall semester in 1995.

Since: Jun 11, 2008
Posted on: August 28, 2010 11:55 pm

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?


Since: Aug 26, 2010
Posted on: August 26, 2010 8:08 pm

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?

Ok listen I am a big Montana State basketball fan -admit it you did not think there was such a thing- and I have never heard of Masai Ujiri.  I have been following MSU basketball since 1980 and have known all of the players who have played since then.  Just in case I possibly could be having a case of old age induced memory failure, I have have batted his name around the longtime MSU SID, former head coach (of 16 years) and a former long time local reporter, and no one remebers him playing one minute for Montana State.  Now possibly he played for D-2 Montana State-Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College) but I am told that is highly unlikely.  No player or person by the name of Masai Ujiri has ever played for Montana State.  So your article entitled "Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he" really is you might want to reviste it!

Since: Aug 10, 2010
Posted on: August 26, 2010 7:07 pm

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?

This is the guy thats suppose 2 keep melo around. Why do the nuggets think this guy can keep melo? They were better off trying 2 land zeke.LOL

Since: Mar 17, 2007
Posted on: August 26, 2010 3:48 pm

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?

anybody else think that this is Ray Allen in disguise?? 

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