The Raptors have turned things around relatively quickly since new GM Masai Ujiri came to town, not only making the playoffs for the first time since 2008, but also playing well enough once they got there to take the Nets to seven games before being eliminated in the first round.
The team had a strong summer, re-signing Kyle Lowry in free agency, and trading for Lou Williams, who should provide some consistent veteran play off the bench.
Williams is thrilled to be in Toronto, where he feels like he’s wanted and has a real responsibility to help his new team. He’s also happy about the message that was conveyed by Ujiri in advance of Toronto’s return to the postseason.
No-nonsense and to-the-point, Williams was impressed as much by the passion shown by the Raptors front office as he was by the team’s play during that series against the Nets. Laughing as he thought back to Toronto’s Game 1 experience, he couldn’t resist sharing a moment that endeared him to his current general manager, Masai Ujiri, even if it wasn’t a popular move with the league’s head office.
“Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I was really excited about the message Masai sent out,” he said. “I was like, ‘That’s pretty dope.’ For once, someone actually spoke their mind. That was interesting to me. Someone actually said, ‘I’m concerned with our team, our organization. I want us to win, I don’t care about anyone else.’ I really liked that message.”
That message, as you may recall, was Ujiri screaming “F— Brooklyn” to fans assembled outside the arena before Toronto’s first home playoff game since 2008.
As we said at the time, it was a refreshing display of emotion from one of the league’s executives, and while the league can’t really have that happening on a consistent basis, Williams probably isn’t the only player that was encouraged by this passionate display.