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12.04.2018 16:27
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From the moment he took over the moribund Toronto Raptors last month, Tim Leiweke vowed to make some significant changes to return the team to competitiveness in the Eastern Conference. It didnt take him long to show everyone that he means business. Leiweke lured Masai Ujiri away from the Denver Nuggets on Friday, giving the Raptors the reigning NBA executive of the year and a rising star among the leagues front office ranks. Yahoo Sports first reported the deal, which is believed to be worth $15 million over five years. "We feel very lucky to have Masai in our organization," Leiweke said in a statement issued by the team. "He is a proven judge of talent and we look for him to be a big part of creating a winning atmosphere, leading us to the playoffs and, ultimately, delivering NBA championships for Toronto." It will be a homecoming of sorts for the 42-year-old Ujiri, a native of Nigeria and the first African-born GM in Americas four major sports. Ujiri was the assistant GM for the Raptors for three seasons before leaving for the Nuggets in 2010, where he quickly made a name for himself. "To come back to the Raptors, to live in such a great city, and work in an organization that has committed all the resources necessary to win championships was a huge factor in the decision," Ujiri said in a statement. "I have already developed a great relationship with Tim Leiweke and I cant wait to get back to Canada to build a team that is poised to take the next step in the NBA." Ujiri will have some weighty decisions to make soon after taking the helm in Toronto. With the team currently over the leagues luxury tax threshold, he will have to decide which of the Raptors burdensome salaries to eliminate using the amnesty clause. Another pressing concern is finding a willing trade partner for maligned Italian forward Andrea Bargnani, whose welcome in Toronto has long been worn out. But Ujiri has had success with tricky manoeuvring in the past. He earned respect for his deft handling of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York and his ability to assemble a relatively starless roster that still managed to be a formidable contender in the Western Conference. With nary an all-star this season, the Nuggets won a franchise-record 57 games and went an NBA-best 38-3 at home to finish third in the powerful Western Conference, helping Ujiri garner the NBAs Executive of the Year honour to go with George Karls Coach of the Year award. But Ujiri was also one of the lowest-paid GMs in the league, earning less than $1 million a season, a salary commensurate with the Nuggets reputation for paying their front office members below market value. Team president Josh Kroenke told The Denver Post a week ago that he and Ujiri had agreed in principle to a contract extension, but once the Raptors came calling, he felt obliged to let Ujiri interview with his old team. "I would also like to publicly thank the Kroenkes in Denver for being such a class organization that they would allow Masai to pursue his dream," Leiweke said. "They put him first in all of our discussions." Kroenke worked closely with Ujiri to shape the roster and he could turn to Pete DAllesandro, Ujiris right-hand man in Denver, to take his boss place. DAllesandro also could follow Ujiri to Toronto. "I appreciate everything Masai has done since re-joining the Nuggets in 2010," Kroenke said. "Over the past two and a half years, he and I have spent countless hours working together to tackle some of the toughest challenges in franchise history. "I have tremendous admiration for him as a colleague and will always consider him to be a great friend. The potential for awkwardness exists in Toronto where Bryan Colangelo, Ujiris former boss with the Raptors, was recently stripped of final say on basketball matters. Leiweke was looking for a new voice to lead the franchise that has missed the playoffs for five straight years. "There is accountability here and we need a new set of eyes and a new thinking," Leiweke said last week. But Colangelos contract was extended and he was moved into a new role as team president, something that he admitted made him "a little disappointed." Ujiri will report to Leiweke and have complete authority on basketball matters. "Bryans probably ticked off at me," Leiweke said then. "Theres no probably. Hes ticked off at me. This isnt his perfect world, either. But to his credit, he accepts it." But Ujiri has plenty of experience navigating difficult situations. He took over as GM in Denver on Aug. 27, 2010, where he was handed the Melo-drama with Anthony demanding a trade to the New York Knicks. After finally engineering the blockbuster deal that next February, Ujiri famously apologized, saying, "We feel we got killed in the trade." But it turned out to be a win-win for both teams: Denver landed a bevy of young players, trade exemptions and draft picks Ujiri used to retool the roster, and the Knicks got a bona fide superstar to build a team around. Danilo Gallinari came over in the deal along with fellow starter Kosta Koufos, key reserve Wilson Chandler and emergency centre Timofey Mozgov. The Nuggets also got Raymond Felton, whom they flipped for point guard Andre Miller and two draft picks, one of which landed them Jordan Hamilton. They used trade exemptions from the deal to acquire Corey Brewer from Dallas and JaVale McGee from Washington. A first-round draft pick acquired in the trade was used to get starter Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia last summer, and Denver used a second-round pick from the deal to draft Quincy Miller. Thats 10 Nuggets connected to Anthonys departure from Denver. Last year, he drafted Evan Fournier of France and Izzet Turkyilmaz from Turkey and also earned praise for drafting Kenneth Faried with the 22nd pick in 2011. "It was a very difficult decision to leave Denver, but the Nuggets remain in good hands," Ujiri said. "Id also like to thank the coaching staff for their work and the fans for their support and dedication. Ill always have a special place in my heart for the city of Denver and the Nuggets as an organization." Brandon Carlo Jersey . 8 Iowa State on Saturday, sending the Cyclones to their third consecutive loss. The Longhorns (14-4, 3-2) got their biggest win of the season with their third in the row in the Big 12. David Pastrnak Jersey . He says so-called TRT is only one problem and he wants to go even further than the ban. "Its about time," St-Pierre told reporters at a promotional event in Montreal on Friday. "I think its a good thing. .com) - The Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks both take aim at their first wins of the season on Saturday, as the Canucks open their home slate at Rogers Arena. Torey Krug Jersey . -- Josh Sterk scored once and set up two more as the Oshawa Generals edged the visiting Belleville Bulls 3-2 on Friday in Ontario Hockey League action. Cam Neely Jersey . It was Kerbers third final of the year after losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in Monterrey in April and to Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic in Tokyo two weeks ago. The 10th-ranked German improved her record in finals to 3-5. Former WWE star Kurt Angle has revealed in a candid interview on the Dan Le Batard show that he was taking 65 extra-strength Vicodin a day at the height of his addiction problems.I was on a lot -- there was no way I couldnt get out of it, the 47 year-old-said via phone call on Friday mornings show. The only thing I could do was eventually go to rehab and try to fix my life again. But I actually beat it on my own. I stayed in my house for about 10 days and didnt leave, and I was able to get through the withdrawal.An Olympic gold medallist in freestyle wrestling in 1996, Angle joined the then-WWF in 1998 but suffered several health setbacks during his time at the company, where he became a six-time world champion.His problems with addiction started in the run-up to those Atlanta Games,?when he fractured two of his cervical vertebrae at the national trials, and required Novocaine injections in his neck to compete.He underwent neck surgery in 2003 and had to step out of the ring again in 2004, with his health issue leading to a painkiller addition which spiraled out of control.After initially beating his addiction, Angle told the Le Batard show he was put on a lower dose on another medication, and went on Xanax too because he was always getting nervous and having a lot of stress.Angle said his departure from WWE in 2006 was due to them wanting him to continue full time, despite him requesting a part-time deal. He signed with fellow American wrestling promotion TNA in September that year.?The thing is, everybody drank down there [in TNA], said Angle. So I started drinking with my meds. And then I started manipulating my meds. I would save all of them until the evening, and drink it with alcohol. And it got me inn a lot of trouble -- four DUIs in five years.ddddddddddddThe last of those DUIs, in Texas in 2013, convinced Angle to finally check himself into rehab to get to the root of the problem. He went for a 30-day stay at the St. Joseph Institute for Addiction in Port Matilda, Pennsylvania.I finally got the right help. he added. I tried to do it myself, but when youre that deep into that stuff, you cant do it on your own. You need somebody elses help, and I finally reached out and I did what I had to do to get it done.It was the worst seven days of my life as well. I went through detox again. That time it stuck. You cant do anything; you cant think; youre in constant pain; your bodys shaking. You dont wanna eat; you dont wanna do anything; you feel like youre gonna die. Its the worst pain youve ever had in your life. And I went through it twice.Angle said he has been clean and sober for three years now. He left TNA Impact Wrestling in January after 10 years with the company, and is now enjoying a lighter schedule, making sporadic appearances on the independent circuit to keep himself in ring shape.I havent had any triggers, he said. I think it has to do with that I dont ever want to have that feeling again. I was merciless to that drug. I was doing stupid stuff. I was desperate. I was spending a lot of money for the medication. It took control of my life. I didnt have anything else to think about than how I was gonna get that drug the next time I could get it. It was ruining my life. The worst time of my whole entire life was those three years where I was really, really deep into it. 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