Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the first African-born executive in the NBA, has spoken out against Donald Trump after the U.S. President reportedly made disparaging comments towards immigration.
On Thursday night, there were reports that Trump referred to some African nations and Haiti as “s***hole countries” while discussing immigration policies at a White House meeting.
On Friday, Ujiri addressed those comments in an interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“This summer, I went to Kigali, and Nairobi and Lagos, and I went to Kampala and Abidjan and Dakar and Johannesburg and I saw great cities, and great people,” Ujiri told ESPN. “And I went to visit the refugee camp in Dadaab, and I met good people and good families with plenty of hope. If those places are being referred to as s***hole, go visit those places, and go meet those people.
“I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s what inspiring leadership can be. What sense of hope are we giving people if you are calling where they live — and where they’re from — a s***hole?”
Ujiri was born in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. to play college basketball in 1993. After retiring as a player in 2002, he began work as a scout with the Orlando Magic. In 2010, the Denver Nuggets named Ujiri the first African-born general manager in league history. Ujiri joined the Raptors as GM in 2013.
Ujiri is also director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program and the Giants of African program, which promote the sport across the continent.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the United States and Canada and I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given by people, and the game of basketball, and the NBA,” he said. “As leaders, I think we have to give people in many places a chance to have success, not continue to put those people down.
“We have to inspire people and give them a sense of hope. We need to bring people along, not ridicule and tear them down. This cannot be the message that we accept from the leader of the free world.”