It’s a storyline straight out of a sports movie. A small town boy ascends the ranks of an NBA team to take over as the youngest in his profession, and returns home to bring his town a rare professional game in his first season on the job.
A Disney script hasn’t hit Kailua native and Toronto Raptors general manager Bobby Webster’s mailbox, but he’s hoping for a cinematic atmosphere when his Raptors take on the Clippers in an NBA preseason game at the Stan Sheriff Center Sunday night.
“I don’t know about [a] Disney story, but obviously [I’m] proud to be from Hawaii and [this is] a great opportunity to bring the Raptors to Hawaii,” Webster said Saturday after the Raptors first practice in Manoa.
“Growing up I remember the Lakers coming to training camp. That’s always really memorable for the basketball community, and just in general to have a professional sports team come.”
The Iolani graduate was named as Toronto’s general manager back in June, becoming the NBA’s youngest at the position at age 32.
With a big crowd expected at the Stan Sheriff Center Sunday, Webster has been making the rounds to accommodate family and friends.
“I told everyone to buy tickets themselves,” Webster joked. “No, I’m sure I’ll have a bunch here and the players and staff are good about giving me theirs so I think we’ll have a full house. It will be fun.”
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was full of praise for Webster, adding that he’ll spend his time enjoying the young prodigy before another imminent promotion.
“He’s a breath of fresh air. He’s smart. He’s energetic. He’s always around,” Casey said.
“He knows the [salary] cap inside out so he’s a huge addition to our organization. Someday he’s going to be a general manager-president in this league. I know [Raptors President] Masai Ujiri is going to hate to lose him, but that day is coming. He’s good at what he does. I told him I’m jealous, I don’t know why he would move to Toronto and leave this. But he’s a great addition and he’s a bright star in the NBA.”
As for any jitters that come with a debut in front of his home state, the former state champion guard for Iolani is glad he’s not lacing it up Sunday night.
“I’m not nervous. I’m not playing, these guys are playing. I think more than anything being proud to be from here I think I want everyone to have a good time. I want to make sure that they walk away feeling like it was a very memorable experience for them,” Webster said.
The Raptors and Clippers tip off Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center. They will also play Tuesday in Manoa at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online here.