He’s already made Canadians other than Steve Nash care about basketball.
For his next trick, maybe Bryan Colangelo will win executive of the year on another continent.
Colangelo, the former Suns and current Toronto Raptors president and general manager, was chosen as the NBA’s Executive of the Year for the second time Monday, after winning the award with the Suns in 2004-05.
Colangelo received 20 votes to nine for Houston Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson, who finished second in the voting by 45 league executives for the award, presented by The Sporting News.
The Raptors went from a 27-win team in 2005-2006 to tying a franchise record with 47 wins and their first Atlantic Division title before losing to the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs this season.
“To some degree, this was only possible because I am with a new franchise,” Colangelo said. “Phoenix obviously is competitive and didn’t require a lot of major changes to be competitive.
“One way you qualify for this award is when a noticeable change for the better occurs. Coming here gave me a great opportunity.”
Using forward Chris Bosh as the foundation, Colangelo added 2006 first overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani, signed free agents Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa, and engineered trades for guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic and forward Kris Humphries to turn the Raptors into an unlooked for success.
He also oversaw a team renaissance among fans. Toronto sold out 20 games this season after selling out just five the year before. And the team has enjoyed a 90 percent renewal rate for season tickets with 2,000 new tickets sold.
“Without question, if there’s one thing you can point to outside basketball it’s that we made the brand relevant again in Toronto,” Colangelo said. “Now comes the hard part. We have greater expectations.”
Colangelo’s first order of business will be deciding what to do with coach Sam Mitchell, who was named Coach of the Year last month.
Mitchell’s contract expires June 30. Colangelo said extension talks are underway.
The Raptors also must figure out how to improve without a pick in this year’s draft and limited salary cap space.
Regardless, Colangelo has probably put to bed any lingering thoughts he was riding father Jerry Colangelo’s coattails in Phoenix.
“It is an interesting development that I’ve been put in position to attempt to survive on my own and I’ve had some moderate success,” Bryan said. “It feels good, but it is no different than having success working with Jerry.”
“I learned a lot from Jerry but I never viewed it that I was in his shadow.”
Dad wasn’t so ready to concede.
“I’m very proud of him, but I always have to keep a little something on top of him,” Jerry said. “I let him know 'Congratulations on your second. Just remember, your old man had four.’ ”
Jerry won the award a record four times (1976, 1981, 1989 and 1993) after becoming general manager of the expansion Suns in 1968.