Leiweke: ‘I didn’t get along with Colangelo’

MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke and former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo.
July 16, 2013, 10:44 AM

Bryan Colangelo’s departure as general manager of the Toronto Raptors had more to do than the team’s recent track record.

Colangelo, who was let go as GM in late May, apparently didn’t see eye-to-eye with his new boss, MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke.

“I didn’t get along with the GM (Bryan Colangelo) … so we brought in somebody who sees the world the same way I do,” Leiweke said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Hugo Miller and Eric LamJul on Monday.

Leiweke replaced Colangelo with reigning NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri, who has made several moves this off-season to reshape the Raptors. He traded maligned first overall pick Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks July 10 and signed tenacious forward Tyler Hansbrough shortly after. Colanagelo-signing Linas Kleiza could also be on his way out, as reports surfaced Tuesday the team is expected to use their amnesty provision on the 28-year-old forward.

Leiweke joined MLSE in April after spending 13 years with Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy and is part owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers and Galaxy each won four titles with Leiweke at the helm of AEG, while the Kings won a Stanley Cup in 2012.

The new MLSE boss will be stepping into a different environment in Toronto.

Although the Leafs snapped their nine-year playoff drought this spring, the Raptors haven’t made the playoffs since 2008 while Toronto FC has been the among worst teams in MLS since coming into the league in 2007.

But Leiweke is up to the challenge of attempting to change the losing culture in Toronto.

“If the teams were doing well, I wouldn’t have come,” Leiweke said. “What intrigued me the most is the opportunity to have an organization here that can aspire to be much more successful and a greater brand than it currently is.”

One way Leiweke could grow the MLSE brand is by helping bring an NFL team to Toronto, although he admits that decision would have to be made by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the 32 team owners.

“We couldn’t own the team, there can’t be corporate ownership in the NFL, but we’d certainly go out of our way to make it work here because it would be great for Toronto and great for Canada.

“If there was a way to have a team like the Jays, that’s Canada’s team, that would be very intriguing.”

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