Toronto Raptors: Don’t be fooled by Masai Ujiri’s apology

President Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
President Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri might have said all the right things during Friday’s press conference, but his ruthless streak is evident.

It’s tough not to like Masai Ujiri, after everything he’s achieved with the Toronto Raptors. His work ethic is second to none, as he has resided over the most successful period in franchise history.

It helps that Ujiri is a charismatic guy, who commands respect whenever he enters a room. As such, when he apologised to DeMar DeRozan during Friday’s press conference, the reaction was understandable.

The general sentiment was that Ujiri came across as classy, stand up man, who acknowledged things could have been handled better with DeRozan. As per the Canadian Press, via Sportsnet, he said:

"“I had a conversation with DeMar at summer league. I think maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him. If there was a miscommunication there I do apologize to DeMar, his family, and his representation. It’s not what I meant.”"

With all due respect, that’s one hell of a miscommunication. In reality though, there was no miscommunication.

Pure and simple, Ujiri just chose not to tell DeRozan that he was considering trading him. In fact, the president even threw in a good old-fashioned Kansas City shuffle.

By discussing what he expected from the four-time All-Star moving forward, Ujiri was essentially implying he wasn’t going anywhere. And that was why DeRozan took to Instagram, to respond to Ujiri’s apology as follows:

This wasn’t the first time DeRozan had shared his displeasure with how Ujiri and the Raptors treated him. Shortly after being traded on Wednesday, as per Sportsnet’s Sonny Sachdeva, he posted the following comments on Instagram:

"Be told one thing and the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out for a quick little bit of nothing…"

Ultimately, what’s emerged from all this, is that Ujiri has a ruthless streak. He won’t let anything get in the way of his desire to lead the Raptors to an NBA championship.

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That’s why the 48-year-old fired Dwane Casey so soon after the conclusion of a campaign which saw the Raptors set a franchise record for regular season wins. The team yet again under-performed in the playoffs and ultimately, it cost Casey his job.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this desire and focus. A championship is what everyone associated with the franchise dreams of, and it’s not every day you get the chance to trade for someone who is renowned as one of the top five players in the game.

Where Ujiri needs to be weary, however, is how his actions are perceived on the outside. Many players — past and present — have already taken to social media, to share their dismay at how DeRozan was treated after years of loyalty to the Raptors.

And we haven’t even considered how the current roster will deal with this recent turn of events. Yes, Kawhi Leonard strengthens the roster but, for example, how will Kyle Lowry react to Ujiri trading away his best friend on the team?

The Nigerian native wants to win at all costs. But if he’s not careful and doesn’t communicate better — or however you want to word it — players will become cautious about signing and/or staying with the Raptors.

Next: DeMar DeRozan's Top 5 highights in Toronto

Are you on board with Ujiri’s apology to DeRozan? Does it even matter? Further, what kind of success are you predicting for the Toronto Raptors next season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.