Monday, December 8, 2014

Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri among other NBA legends honor Nelson Mandela on the anniversary of his death

Photo credit: TorontoSun
Toronto Raptors' President and General Manager Masai Ujiri was joined by some of sports biggest Icons in celebration of the life and legacy of former South African President and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela who died exactly one year ago. The gala event was held at the Air Canada center in Toronto in the Raptors practice facility, the event featured a panel discusssion between 5-time NBA Champ Magic Johnson, retired NBA player Charles Barkley, 8-time NBA All-Star and Congo's Dikembe Mutombo and Miss Universe 1999, Mpule Kwelagobe.

NBA Deputy Commisioner, Mark Tatum and NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall also were in attendance.

The gala event was followed by a game between the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers in a game ended with the visitors taking home their sixth win in a row -105-91. Lebron James led the Cavaliers with 24-points and a season-best 13 assists.

The Nigerian-born NBA Exec who is also Africa's first executive with an NBA team was emotional as he said- “It's incredible to see Magic, Charles, Dikembe, the came here just like that. The world is not in a good place in my opinion and Mandela makes it better. He will be bigger, even though he's passed. He was bigger than life.”

The 44-year-old NBA Exec first met Mandela in the summer of 2006 in Johannesburg as an ambassador for the NBA community Program, Basketball without Borders, speaking fondly of the late Mandela he said- “Growing up I always remember watching the news with my dad, and I remember images of fire, fights on the street and I would see my Dad's reaction and I began to learn about Nelson Mandela.”
As I got older, it began to mean more to me what he had done. When I met him in 2006, it completely changed everything. He was someone I idolized.”

Proceeds from the event will go in support of Raptors boss Uriri's not-for-profit organization, Giants of Africa as well as the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Ujiri's foundation, Giants of Africa was formed in 2003, the non-profit organization helps educate and enrich the lives of African youths using basketball as a tool-providing them with camps, coaching and facilities. Ujiri found his love for the sport a 13-year-old boy in Nigeria and was fortunate to play college basketball w when he moved to the U.S