Masai Ujiri apologizes after rally

Updated: April 20, 2014, 1:23 AM ET
By Mike Mazzeo and Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri shouted "F--- Brooklyn!" at a fan rally outside Air Canada Centre prior to Game 1 of his team's first-round Eastern Conference playoff series Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets.

Ujiri's use of the expletive was captured by a fan and posted on Instagram. Ujiri apologized later Saturday during a brief session with reporters at halftime.

[+] EnlargeMasai Ujiri
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsRaptors GM Masai Ujiri shouted an expletive aimed at the Nets during a fan rally Saturday.

"Wrong choice of words out there," he said. "It is really not about me. It is about the players and the playoffs.

"Just trying to get the crowd out there rattled -- wrong choice of words. I apologize to kids out there and to the Brooklyn guys. Nothing against them. Just trying to get our fans going. That's it."

Ujiri, who did not answer any questions during the session, reiterated that he does not like the Nets.

"You know how I feel," he said with a chuckle. "Thanks guys. I apologize for not taking any questions, but you know how I feel. I don't like 'em. I apologize."

Forward Amir Johnson supported his GM after the Raptors' 94-87 Game 1 loss.

"He's a very passionate man," he said. "We definitely have his back. I'm with him 100 percent. If he said f--- 'em, we all say f--- 'em."

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said Ujiri was only expressing his passion for his team.

"He believes in what we have and what we're doing and that's what he is -- he's a passionate and very emotional guy," Lowry said.

Going into the series, there was rampant speculation that the Nets tanked -- losing four of their final five regular-season games -- in order to face the Raptors instead of the fourth-seeded Chicago Bulls. The Nets, who are seeded sixth, have denied that.

Ujiri was asked by Toronto reporters prior to the series about the possibility that the Nets wanted to play his team.

"Good for them," Ujiri said. "You know what? We haven't lost one -- I know I haven't and I can sense from the players -- second of sleep worrying about the Brooklyn Nets.

"At the end of the day if we want to be a good team, we have to play good teams. We're not hoping for anybody. We're in the playoffs. You have to play. They can do whatever they want. We'll be right here."

Nets coach Jason Kidd said after Saturday's game he could "care less" what the Raptors GM had to say.

"You gotta tell me who the GM is," he said. "I don't even know who that is. I could care less what they think about Brooklyn. We have a job to do, and that's to play the game of basketball."

When told about Ujiri's comments, Nets veteran Kevin Garnett welcomed the bulletin board material.

"It's all good," Garnett said. "It's motivation. So keep rooting for the Raptors, keep rooting for the home team."

Raptors fans serenaded Garnett with a "KG sucks!" chant throughout the game. And Garnett and teammate Paul Pierce were featured on a Toronto Sun cover with the headline "RAPTORS VS. DINOSAURS."

"It's all good," Garnett said. "It's not our first time. I've been here before. I've read this book before. So it's nothing new. I love the Toronto fans. They're passionate. They love the Raptors and that's what up."

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov had nothing to add, according to a spokesperson.

Information from ESPN.com contributor James Herbert was used in this report.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Follow him on Twitter »  Ohm's chat archive »

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