It’s clear that Toronto Mayor John Tory is a big fan of Raptors executive Masai Ujiri.
And amid uncertainty about Ujiri’s future in the city this summer, Tory said he personally phoned up MLSE to make sure they did everything in their power to keep Ujiri around long term, who was one of the masterminds behind the 2019 NBA champion roster.
Mayor Tory spoke about the phone call during an unveiling of a new public art installation outside of Union Station, curated by Ujiri.
“I called to say we need him to stay here,” Tory said Wednesday at the unveiling. “I don’t interfere often with these kinds of things. It’s not right for me to do so. But in this case, I felt that it was [necessary] because… he built a championship team here. He’d be the first to say it was with the help of a lot of other people. And he will build a championship team again. But I called because I said that the city of Toronto needs Masai to be here.”
Ujiri’s art installation, titled Humanity, will be in front of Union Station until October 31.
“I hope that this piece of public art will remind us every day of our commitment to humanity, our commitment to inclusion, our commitment to social justice, and our commitment to build something bigger here,” Tory said.
Tory pointed to Masai’s work with the Giants of Africa Foundation in addition to Ujiri’s on-court accomplishments as a basketball executive.
“I just want to say thank you for what you do, uniting the city,” Tory added. “[Thanks for] helping us realize that we’re part of something bigger. It isn’t just about basketball, and isn’t just about commerce. It’s about something much bigger than that. It’s about humanity.”
Tory also said that Ujiri helps foster a sense of inclusiveness within the city.
“You need role models,” Tory said of Ujiri. “You need people that others look up to and to see as a role model and bring people together.”