It's time to come home: Raptors exec Ujiri says everything points to playing at home

·2 min read

TORONTO — Masai Ujiri says it's time to come home.

The Raptors president and vice-chairman said everything points to his team playing home games at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena this season.

Ujiri says his staff is in regular talks with municipal and provincial health authorities and the Prime Ministers office and that there are no discussions about playing anywhere but in Toronto this coming season.

"We can’t wait to get back to Toronto here and we can’t wait to get back to playing, we can't wait to get back to basketball, and life, and I am really genuinely excited about this," Ujiri said.

Ujiri was addressing the media live in Toronto for the first time since the pandemic struck in mid-March of 2020. 

The Raptors were forced to call Tampa, Fla., home last season because of the province's COVID-19 protocols and border restrictions.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., which owns the Raptors, among other teams, announced on Tuesday that fans must provide proof of vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test to attend games this season. 

Ujiri also took the opportunity to pay tribute to outgoing star point guard Kyle Lowry, calling the veteran point guard the "greatest Raptor."

Lowry joined Miami this off-season following a sign-and-trade deal with the Heat.

That ended the 35-year-old's wildly successful nine-year run in Toronto that included six all-star appearances and a championship in 2019.

Ujiri said he wishes Lowry all the best in Miami, except when he faces his former team. Asked about whether Lowry will get his jersey retired in Toronto, Ujiri said: "He's going to get everything, and some."

"It's been really tough for us to see an incredible player like that go," Ujiri said. "We knew this was coming. The direction of our team was kind of going younger and Kyle still has these incredible goals."

Ujiri signed a new deal to stay in Toronto on Aug. 5, adding vice chairman to his existing title of president. His previous deal was set to expire this summer.

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