Raptors’ Masai Ujiri makes two bold proclamations before NBA Finals


Raptors’ Masai Ujiri makes two bold proclamations before NBA Finals

Masai Ujiri is a bold man.

The Toronto Raptors president built a sizable chunk of his Eastern Conference champion roster through trades, acquiring pivotal pieces Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka over the years. Thanks in big part to those (and other) big moves, his Raptors will square off with the Warriors in the NBA Finals beginning Thursday in Toronto.

With the Scotiabank Arena crowd cheering him on after Toronto's Eastern Conference finals-deciding win Saturday night, Ujiri made a couple of audacious proclamations in a postgame interview with TNT's Ernie Johnson.

"We came all this way to compete, and we want to win in Toronto -- and we will win in Toronto," Ujiri said to roars from Raptors fans when Johnson asked for his thoughts on a matchup with the Warriors. 

How does he look back on the Leonard trade? 

"He's been unbelievable," Ujiri said to loud approval from the home crowd. "He's the best player in the league, and we're happy he's in Toronto." 

It's hard to blame Ujiri for being confident, nor should it be too much of a surprise. 

[RELATED: How Warriors, Raptors stack up ahead of NBA Finals matchup]

For one, the Raptors rattled off four straight wins against likely MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the NBA's top seed in the Bucks. For another, Leonard is operating at the peak of his powers, averaging 31.2 points per game in the postseason.

On top of that, Toronto had just won the biggest game in franchise history, as the Raptors clinched their first-ever Finals appearance in 24 years as an NBA franchise. Plus, Ujiri once told a Toronto crowd "f--- Brooklyn" ahead of a first-round series with the Nets in 2014 and said a year later that "he ain't taking that back." 

The Warriors are pursuing their fourth NBA title in five years, and don't need the bulletin-board material that the sixth-seeded Nets needed to upset the third-seeded Raptors five years ago. But five days before the Finals begin, it's nice to already see a strong dose of personality. 

Ex-Warrior Andrew Bogut not retiring yet but won't re-sign with Sydney

Ex-Warrior Andrew Bogut not retiring yet but won't re-sign with Sydney

Back in mid-April, former Warriors center Andrew Bogut said he would make a decision on his basketball future in May.

With a handful of days left in May, Bogut has made a decision.

Sort of.

The 35-year-old Australian tweeted a statement Sunday and said he won't re-sign with the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League right now, or any other professional basketball team for that matter.

Bogut made it clear that it wasn't a "retirement note." He said due to the uncertainty surrounding sports because of the global coronavirus pandemic, it was too difficult to make a decision right now.

He also did mention that he hopes to be back on a basketball in the "near future."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bogut last appeared on an NBA court in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals when the Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors at Oracle Arena.

Since then, he had been play with Sydney before the pandemic forced all sports leagues to pause their seasons. Bogut was averaging 8.2 points and 8.8 rebounds in 21.5 minutes over 25 games for Sydney.

For now, Bogut will let his body rest and spend time with his family.

[RELATED: Bogut likes two NBA draft prospects]

If the former No. 1 overall pick decides later not to play another professional basketball game, he leaves the sport with a decorated NBA career: Champion, an All-NBA Third Team selection, and an All-Defensive Second Team selection.

Warriors' Steph Curry wants in on next iteration of 'The Match' event

Warriors' Steph Curry wants in on next iteration of 'The Match' event

Warriors star Steph Curry wants in.

Capital One’s “The Match” featuring NFL stars Tom Brady and Peyton Manning playing golf with PGA icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Inclement weather delayed the start, and the former Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks now are realizing just how difficult playing golf on national television can be.

Curry tweeted that he’d like to be included in the next iteration, saying that he's missing being out on the greens.

[RELATED: Watch Tom Brady get trolled by Samuel L. Jackson in 'The Match' intros]

His former teammate and course partner Andre Iguodala also is hoping Curry can bring some more skill to the event.

Who would you want to see Curry play with?

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]