• Khari Jones Jr.

Raptors reaping benefits of global diversity

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri has put together an amazing global organisation. The team that he has helped to assemble during his tenure at the franchise has been nothing short of special.

The above now seems obvious considering the fact that the Raptors are in the 2019 NBA Finals, and it is the first time an NBA Final series is being played in another country other than the United States.

Reaching the NBA Finals is something Ujiri and the Raptors organisation has always dreamed of and now they have made it their reality. Most importantly they have thrived off diversity of the franchise’s culture.

The NBA should definitely tip their hats to the Raptors organisation. Whether they win or lose the finals, they are making history right in front of everyone’s eyes and this magnifies just how much the NBA is expanding culturally on a global scale.

The Raptors even have a cultural icon in rapper Drake as their Global Ambassador. Ujiri and Drake’s ultimate goal is to reach new levels of success and increase the diversity of the Raptors fan base. Ujiri recently commented on the franchise’s relationship with Drake: “We can’t have it better than the ‘King’ of Toronto himself. To have somebody special like this for us is huge, we appreciate his support.”

At the start of the season, the NBA announced that there are 108 international players from 42 countries in the league, which is the most international players ever and the Raptors have made a solid contribution to these numbers.

An important fact to note is that Ujiri himself is from Africa.

His success with the Raptors and beyond is huge for the Africa continent. Ujiri’s work ethic will continue to inspire people around the world as he continues to demonstrate that with effort, anything is possible.

In addition, the Raptors organisation also continues to demonstrate to others just how diversity can be leveraged for success - from the staff to the players.

Some key international players on the Raptors squad are Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam, Congolese forward Serge Ibaka, Nigerian-British forward OG Anunoby and Spanish center Marc Gasol.

Ujiri noted: “When you look at all the international players we have on our team, and diverse individuals on our staff, this has really brought us together. I think it says so much because that’s how our city is, that’s how the country is. We can relate to the multicultural nature or the diversity of Toronto and Canada as a whole.”

Cultural Intelligence plays a key role in the Raptors organisational culture. “The better you are able to communicate with one another and understand each other’s beliefs, the higher your chances of succeeding,” he said.

In a recent interview, Ujiri spoke on how sometimes the Raptors players communicate with each other in a different language, which is quite unique for an NBA team.

“They talk to each other in different languages on defence, they speak in different languages in the locker room, and it’s the same in the rest of our organisation. Being international myself and being from Africa, I’m proud of that,” Ujiri said.

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