The Raptors, the only NBA team in Canada, should carry the same level of cross-country appeal as the Toronto Blue Jays, the only Canadian Major League Baseball team, he said. Much like Toronto FC, the Raptors’ mediocrity has eroded fan support.
“We need to be a lot better than we are right now, because right now we’re not very good,” Leiweke said. “We have 35 million people that are our audience. We own Canada, it is our home, our territory and our region and we have to act like it.”
“I’m not even sure we deserve Toronto,” he said.
Leiweke hired Masai Ujiri, the NBA’s reigning executive of the year for his work with the Denver Nuggets, to run the Raptors after firing Bryan Colangelo in June.
“I didn’t get along with the GM of the basketball team, so we brought in somebody who sees the world the same way I do,” Leiweke said.
Next year’s NBA draft is going to have many good players the Raptors may be interested in to build up a team over time.
The owners “are very aware that we may ultimately have to, excuse my English, suck to be good,” he said. “They understand they’re going to have to be patient there.”