Masai Ujiri:’It’s good to be the first; I have a problem that is the only one’

Read Time:2 Minute, 48 Second


In 2019, he led the Canadian basketball team to become the first team outside the United States to win an NBA championship. However, during the celebration on the court, Ujiri had an argument with a sheriff’s deputy, which he believed was because he was black.

Ujiri renewed his contract with the Raptors in August, making him vice chairman and president, and he said this incident prompted him to do more humanitarian work—especially through his African Giants organization.

Through a non-profit organization, he hopes to attract more Africans to participate in the sport. Since 2003, he has organized basketball training camps for more than 5,000 boys and girls in 16 African countries-currently his mission is in Africa 100 basketball courts were built on the mainland.

In September of last year, CNN’s Arit Okpo (Arit Okpo) spoke with Ujiri of Kenya while he was unveiling some of the first courts.

For clarity, the following interview has been condensed and edited.

Arit Okpo: You are the first black non-American team chairman in North American sports. What does this mean to you?

Marseille Ougiri: I’m struggling a bit because you have a sense of pride and say you are leading the trend, and this is where it ends. Because if no one else followed me, it means I didn’t do a good job. I am the only one, and I really hate it. I hope there are more black people. I hope there are more Africans.

I am proud to bring young African coaches and young African women to talk to these children because they saw that if I and you can do it, they can do it too. So yes, I don’t want to be the only person. I hate that. It doesn’t matter, I am the first one-I have a problem to be the only one.

Okpo: So have you adopted this approach, maybe it will change the way certain things are done?

Employment: Yes, there are many ways. First, we must give more opportunities to black people in our own institutions and organizations. We must continue to think of ways to become decision makers in these boards. It’s not just about hiring interns or hiring diversity and inclusion officials-we must be in a position to make decisions in the best way. Personally, there are a few projects that we are working on, and now I can’t say too much because I’m 100% excited.

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Okpo: Your responsibilities with the Toronto Raptors have been extended to the vice chairman. Apart from the president, what does this mean for the work you will do?

Employment: We are the only (NBA) team outside of the United States, which brings a unique opportunity. And some people don’t really understand it. When I talked about ownership, I thought, do you know? We need to take it bigger. We need to be a team in the world. I must help more people. I have to use my platform to speak up.

If there are no more (people like me) in this position, it will be a failure. So my voice must be louder to put us in an environment where we can become bigger decision makers. And these are exactly what I want to do.


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