Posted May 21, 2013

Nuggets’ Masai Ujiri named Executive of the Year

Ben Golliver, Denver Nuggets, Masai Ujiri
Masai Ujiri, right, has been named 2013 Executive of the Year. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

Masai Ujiri (right) has been named 2013 Executive of the Year. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

The NBA announced Thursday that Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri has been named 2013 Executive of the Year.

Ujiri, the first African-born GM in NBA history, becomes the third Nuggets executive to take home the honor, joining Vince Boryla (1985) and Mark Warkentien (2009). Nuggets coach George Karl was also named Coach of the Year on Wednesday. Ujiri earned eight first-place votes, finishing ahead of the Clippers’ Gary Sacks (3), the Rockets’ Daryl Morey (4) and the Knicks’ Glen Grunwald (2).

Hired in 2010, Ujiri has totally transformed the Nuggets roster over the last three years, establishing a reputation as a creative, active and aggressive executive. His headlining move was the 2011 blockbuster trade of Carmelo Anthony, which netted Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov, among other assets, but he has also swung trades that landed Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee, Andre Miller and Corey Brewer.

He’s done well in the draft, grabbing Kenneth Faried and Evan Fournier, among others, while also locking up point guard Ty Lawson to a four-year extension last fall. Ujiri also signed guard Arron Afflalo and center Nene Hilario to new contracts, only to later flip them in trades for Iguodala and McGee, respectively.

Ujiri’s roster, while lacking in a true superstar, was one of the league’s deepest and most talented in the NBA this season, finishing with a 57-25 record, good for third-best in the Western Conference and fourth-best overall. Denver was eliminated in six games by Golden State in the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs last week.

Beginning his NBA career as a scout for the Nuggets, Ujiri moved on to multiple front office positions with the Raptors, where he worked his way up to assistant GM before returning to Denver. Ujiri was born in Nigeria.

Other executives who received a first-place vote: San Antonio’s R.C. Buford (1), Miami’s Pat Riley (4), Golden State’s Bob Myers (1), Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti (1), Atlanta’s Danny Ferry (1), Orlando’s Rob Hennigan (1) and Memphis’ Jason Levien (1).

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