Perhaps they do things differently in Nigeria. Maybe it’s a place where outrageous amounts of honesty are the norm and a premium is placed on telling it like it is, no matter how much the truth hurts. Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, who hails from Nigerian town of Zaria, seems to lack whatever gene causes men in his lofty position to spin the story where his team is concerned. The Nuggets aren’t contenders for an NBA Championship and Ujiri isn’t afraid to say it.
It’s one thing for Woody Paige to write it in the Denver Post. It’s another thing altogether when the man responsible for the very make-up of the Nugs admits to the Denver media that this won’t be their year. After having made no moves at the NBA trade deadline, Ujiri brazenly stated to whomever would listen yesterday that he was building for the future – taking the long view with the understanding that his Nuggets are not yet ready to give the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers of the world a run for their money.
Masai’s words are hard to swallow. Fans know the reality of the situation. It’s always in the backs of their minds. But to root the Nuggets on knowing that their season will come to an end somewhere short of the ultimate goal grows tiresome. It’s been this way for as long as any of us can remember. It’s the George Karl era in a nutshell. It’s as though, with all of the changes to complexion of the team over the years, nothing has actually changed.
Ujiri is no dummy, though. The dude does know he’s doing. He believes that, if he can build the Nuggets around a talented young nucleus, the day will come that he can put the last piece in place and that his Denver Nuggets will someday win a title. This is not something Masai Ujiri hopes to do – it’s something that he is determined to do.
He keeps it real. Maybe a little too real. The good news, though, is that he speaks the truth. If he has faith so can we.
The list of NBA players entering free agency in 2014 reads like an All-Star roster. Lebron, Dirk, Kobe, Wade, Garnett, Kyrie, Rubio, Duncan and Carmelo are all on it – as are dozens and dozens of players on the fringe of greatness. It’s safe to assume that Masia is eying this free agency period as his chance to close the loop. It’s at that time that the building should finally stop and the decorating can begin.
The very way in which Masai Ujiri levels with us, keeps it almost too real, is what will make the Denver Nuggets appealing to the type of veteran players that the Nuggets must attract to become contenders. He’s a superstar of a General Manager – the key building block to the future of team.