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Toronto Raptors vice-chairman and president Masai Ujiri was finally re-signed to a multi-year extension on Aug. 5 — much to the delight and relief of fans — following months of speculation over his future.
But according to a report from the Toronto Star’s Christine Dobby and Doug Smith, not all in the MLSE boardroom were as eager to keep the 51-year-old around. One of the heads of Canadian telecom giant Rogers Communications, Edward Rogers, reportedly went to great lengths to keep the Raptors from re-signing Ujiri.
Dobby and Smith report that Rogers believed the compensation offered to Ujiri was too high, and that the team would be okay without him at the helm.
Rogers allegedly confronted the Raptors president over his grievances, leaving Ujiri feeling disrespected and reportedly considering taking time away from his position with the team. Larry Tanenbaum, Dale Lastman and Mirko Bibic — key members of the MLSE board — reassured Ujiri that he was wanted in Toronto and convinced him to return, according to Dobby and Smith.
“Masai understands better than anyone that negotiations test both sides,” Rogers told the Star.
Rogers reportedly contacted the NBA’s front office and league commissioner Adam Silver, complaining that his demands to MLSE were being ignored. League officials told Rogers that Tanenbaum, the team’s governor, had the power to overrule the board, and did so in order to bring Ujiri back.
According to Dobby and Smith’s report, Ujiri was highly coveted throughout the professional sports world while he negotiated over his future, with lucrative offers coming in from teams around the NBA and even from the English Premier League, England’s top soccer division.
Under Ujiri, the Raptors qualified for the playoffs in every season between 2013 and 2020, claiming four division titles and the 2019 NBA Championship. His success has added $500 million in value to the Raptors since his arrival, according to the report.
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