DENVER (AP) – Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri was named the NBA’s executive of the year on Thursday, a day after George Karl was named the league’s top coach.
Ujiri, the first African-born GM in major American sports, built the Nuggets team that won an NBA franchise-record 57 games and went an NBA-best 38-3 at home before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs.
He assembled a team that had nine players average between 8 and 16.7 points.
Ujiri raised eyebrows earlier this spring when he proclaimed the Nuggets, in the midst of a 24-4 run after the All-Star break, weren’t quite ready to contend this year. He was proven right when the third-seeded Nuggets were beaten in six games by the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors, led by Stephen Curry.
Ujiri totaled 59 points and received eight first-place votes from a panel of his fellow team basketball executives throughout the league.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ Gary Sacks finished second with 28 points (three first-place votes) and the Houston Rockets’ Daryl Morey and the New York Knicks’ Glen Grunwald finished tied for third with 25 points (four first-place votes).
Ujiri, who spent three years with the Toronto Raptors before joining the Nuggets, was named to his current position on Aug. 27, 2010. He worked for the Nuggets organization as a scout from 2003-07, and served as the team’s director of international scouting during the 2006-07 season.
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Ujiri’s predecessor, Mark Warkentien, won the honor in 2009. Denver’s Vince Boryla also won the award in 1984-85.
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