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Coronavirus: Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri urges everyone to 'play by the rules'

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri addresses the media at an NBA Cares event in Toronto
Image: Raptors GM Masai Ujiri addresses the media at an NBA Cares event in Toronto

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri stressed it is "time to play by the rules" with regard to the global response to coronavirus.

"We are in unprecedented times, challenging times, extraordinary times," Ujiri said on a conference call with local reporters in Toronto. "This is global. It's the whole world and we all miss what we do and miss what we love, but I think it's now a time for us to stay together, pay attention to the rules and regulations."

Ujiri touched upon the importance of listening to public health experts and staying inundated with new information.

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"It is time to play by the rules, practise social distancing, washing our hands and being clean," Ujiri said. "I'm basically stalking [US coronavirus expert] Dr [Anthony] Fauci like he is the next NBA Draft pick."

Although expressing his longing for basketball and a return to normalcy, Ujiri was adamant that public safety and wellbeing would come before his focus on the NBA season.

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"It's honestly like the last thing on my mind. I miss the game, I miss basketball," Ujiri said when asked about his involvement with the normal business of basketball. "I'm concerned for my team. I'm concerned for my family. I'm concerned for the world.

"This is not about the NBA, the NBA players, the NBA fans, it's about the whole world. This is global."

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Ujiri praised Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on his handling of the coronavirus crisis thus far and referenced his first-hand experience with Trudeau on a recent trip to Africa together.

"I honestly think [Trudeau] has handled it well," said Ujiri, who has cultivated a relationship with the prime minister. "I was fortunate to be around him, trying to learn about the briefings and things that he goes through during our travel together."

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Ujiri, who grew up in Nigeria, also touched on the progress made in handling the virus in Africa. He stated that he has spoken to African leaders on the topic and about the need to keep a keen eye on seemingly lesser affected areas.

"We have to pay attention to places where it's not hit as much," Ujiri stated, explaining this could be due to limited testing, limited communication or the possibility that a larger wave of cases could come in the future.

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As for the Raptors organisation, Ujiri expressed his desire to adjust to this new way of life and continue to grow.

"This is a time for us to rally, to be together, to be innovative and figure out a way forward," he said.

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