On February 28, 2006, the Toronto Raptors named Bryan Colangelo president and general manager. He joined the franchise following 15 years in the Phoenix Suns organization, where he served 11 seasons as the club’s general manager including the last seven as team president.
In his first full season at the helm of the Raptors, the team improved an NBA-best 20 wins over the 2005-06 season to tie a franchise high with 47 victories. Toronto went on to win the 2006-07 Atlantic Division championship, securing third seed and home court in their return to the playoffs after missing the postseason the previous five seasons.
Colangelo and his management team rebuilt the club while retaining just six players from the 2005-06 season-ending roster. In three different trades, the Raptors acquired guard T.J. Ford from Milwaukee, forward Kris Humphries from Utah and centre Rasho Nesterovic from San Antonio, while Jorge Garbajosa and Anthony Parker were signed as free agents. He also resigned NBA All-Star Chris Bosh to a long term deal securing him as the cornerstone of the franchise’s foreseeable future.
Colangelo’s revamping plan began to take shape with considerable fanfare when the Raptors won the annual NBA Draft Lottery, giving the franchise the top overall pick in the draft for the first time in team history. The club then made NBA history by selecting Italian forward Andrea Bargnani from Benetton Treviso, marking the first time a European player had been chosen with the top pick.
For his efforts in leading the Raptors’ dramatic change of fortune, Colangelo was named Sporting News NBA Executive of the Year. It was his second such honour, having received the award in 2005 after guiding the Suns to the third-greatest turnaround in NBA history en route to winning the Pacific Division Championship. He is one of only three executives to win the award with two different franchises (Bob Bass, Jerry West).
During Colangelo’s career as a general manager, his teams have appeared in the NBA Playoffs 10 of 12 seasons, captured four division championships and posted an overall record of 529-420 (.557).
Prior to his move to Toronto, the former Suns executive was part of a new ownership group that purchased the franchise June 30, 2004. He also previously held the positions of scout, assistant director of player personnel, and vice president/assistant general manager with the Suns, where he was directly involved in all aspects of player personnel, including evaluation, draft selection and transactions. He also served as tournament director of the NIKE Desert Classic, an annual college All-Star basketball tournament held in Phoenix, from 1993 through 2001.
In addition to his responsibilities with the Suns, Colangelo served as president of Phoenix Arena Sports (PAS), the owning entity of the Arizona Rattlers (Arena Football League) and the operating entity of the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) from June 1991 through June 2002. Highlights of his involvement with PAS include the 1994 and 1997 Rattler World Championships, setting the league attendance mark with the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA’s inaugural season, and his selection as the AFL’s 1993 Executive of the Year. The Rattlers also won the AFL Commissioner’s Award as the top franchise on and off the field for an unprecedented five straight years from 1996 to 2000.
In May 2005, Colangelo was named to the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Program Advisory Panel charged with selecting teams for the 2006 FIBA World Championship (Saitama, Japan), 2007 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Las Vegas, USA) and the 2008 Olympics (Beijing, China).
Colangelo’s accomplishments and influence in sports and business were also recognized nationally when he was named to the “40 Under 40” most influential group by Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal in 2000.
Colangelo was born June 1, 1965. He is a 1987 graduate of Cornell University with a bachelor of science degree in business management and applied economics.