June 22, 2006) -- The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday that they have hired Benetton Treviso general manager Maurizio Gherardini as the club’s vice president and assistant general manager. Gherardini becomes the first European to hold a senior management position with an NBA franchise.
“We are thrilled to have a globally esteemed basketball executive like Maurizio Gherardini join the Toronto Raptors,” said Bryan Colangelo, president and general manager of the Raptors. “This is a ground breaking move for the league, appropriately with the NBA’s only true international franchise.”
Gherardini, 51, has built Benetton Treviso into one of the most recognizable basketball organizations outside the NBA. His squad captured the Italian Lega A championship Tuesday with a series win over Climamio Bologna. He has led Benetton to four League championships (1997, 2002, 2003 and 2006), seven Italian Cups (1993-95, 2000, 2003-05), three Italian supercups (1997, 2001 and 2002), two Eurocups (1995 and 1999) and four appearances in the Euroleague’s final four (1993, 1998, 2002, and 2003).
Gherardini joined Benetton in 1992. Under his guidance, the club has become a training ground in Europe and a destination for NBA personnel to scout players. He has organized basketball camps and clinics, including the first coaches clinic in Europe. He also oversees the Reebok Big Man camp and Reebok Eurocamp, where top European young players learn and compete.
Gherardini started his basketball career playing for Forli from 1971-75. He then became an assistant coach and director of youth teams for the club from 1975-82. In 1983, he was promoted to general manager of the Forli entry that played in the top league (Serie A). He remained in that capacity until 1992 when he joined Benetton.
Gherardini was born in Forli, Italy on September 22, 1955. He attended McCluer High School in Florissant, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, as a foreign exchange student and graduated in 1973.