What a weekend of potential Masai Ujiri to D.C. news. First, in the wee morning hours of Friday morning, we heard that the Wizards wanted to interview Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri with an offer of a six-year, $60 million contract with an ownership stake. Then later Friday afternoon, the Wizards had no plans to interview him, at least not right away.
But on Saturday, ANOTHER wrinkle went into this affair. And that’s why I’m taking time out of my day in the wee hours of the morning to write about it.
Ethan Strauss of The Athletic was on its “Back to Back Podcast” on Saturday, June 15. In it, he said that “I’ve heard [Barack] Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball.”
You can listen to that remark at the 18:30 to 19-minute mark of the podcast.
The former U.S. President and Ujiri are friends. Both worked together with on charity projects in Kenya last year. Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2015 while Obama was in office. And most recently. Obama was in attendance during Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Raptors and Warriors.
Most presidents move back to their hometowns after the finish their time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. But in Obama’s case, he bought a house in Kalorama, a neighborhood near the White House so his youngest daughter could graduate from high school there. However, perhaps staying in Washington beyond that could allow him to pursue more projects with diplomatic and international projects than simply staying in Chicago where his Presidential Library will be.
And that could be a selling point for Ujiri to come to Washington, perhaps.
If Ujiri comes to Washington, it is great that he would have more direct access to international organizations that work in Africa and his native Nigeria than Toronto, which is not the Canadian capital.
But the Wizards need to rebuild and they need someone who focuses on that job first and foremost. Can Ujiri improve the Wizards while also spending time on other projects he cares about? Let us know in the comments what you think about President Obama reportedly playing a part in these negotiations.