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A Few Moments with Masai

Michael Farrell, Producer (@MikeFarrellTSN) Apr. 18, 2014 7:15 PM
Let me start off by saying... I am not jaded.


Sometimes in sports feature production, trying to find a sincere, genuine character is like trying to find an intervalometer that shoots at 29.97fps without automatic aperture adjustment.

Am I right?

At times it seems that those in the sporting limelight are so hyper image conscious that they can't utter a sentence without consulting their publicist.

But every now and again you come across some authentic and inspiring individuals, and I would put Masai Ujiri in that category. His journey from the northern Nigerian town of Zaria to the front office of the NBA is mind boggling. It is a complex narrative sprinkled with wherewithal, luck, and determination.

The responsibility Masai feels to give back to Africa is palpable when spending time with him. His office is littered with reminders of back home; a place that is always close to his heart. The basketball camps that he runs across the continent are literally changing lives.

When Bruce Arthur and I interviewed Masai earlier this month, he made a point to shake the hands of everyone in the crew and ask how they were doing. That doesn't always happen on shoots. I also spent a few hours shooting with him during a recent Raptors home game against the Milwaukee Bucks. It was refreshing to see him riding the elevator at the ACC with fans and spending 30 minutes in the concourse taking pictures with kids and senior citizens alike. He was very trusting and candid and didn't think twice before naturally carrying on with his day with me and a camera in tow. I actually felt honoured that he trusted us so much.

After spending a few moments with Masai, I am officially a little less jaded.