Title: Open Gym casts honest light on Masai Ujiri’s toughest decisions, all made with a Raptors championship in mind
Date: November 15, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about an Open Gym retrospective and how a reflection of the team’s history colors the tough decisions Masai Ujiri made this summer.
On Tuesday night, Bell and the Toronto Raptors held an event at the TIFF Lightbox a short walk from Scotiabank Arena to honour the incredible Open Gym series. For a seventh season in a row, the Open Gym crew, led by visionary producer Jeff Landicho, has gained unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Raptors, taking viewers inside the everyday life of the team.
The trust Landicho and his crew have fostered with the organization from the very top down is remarkable, and the show is a seemingly unreplicated success because of a confluence of factors built on that trust. NBA commissioner Adam Silver once put Ujiri on the spot asking how the show is so successful, and Ujiri expressed that it’s the trust built with the crew that’s made it possible. Seeing Landicho speak about the show broke the fourth wall; the Open Gym guys are at the same time central to the show’s success and yet never a part of the story, with their crew only occasionally acknowledged by a Raptor shooting a knowing Halpert-ian grin.
As part of the celebration of the show, the producers put together a retrospective on the last seven years, using largely unseen footage and new interviews to paint a brilliant reminder of how far the Raptors have come and how inside a look at that growth fans have received. It was Bryan Colangelo who originally greenlit the project — or rather, was lathered into suggesting a project Landicho’s team already had a pitch ready for — and Masai Ujiri who embraced it.