Toronto Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo has been named the NBA’s executive of the year after successfully rebuilding the team beyond expectations.

An Atlantic Division title and the team’s first playoff appearance in five seasons were more than enough to convince 29 of the 45 voters that Colangelo is worthy. Carroll Dawson of the Houston Rockets was the runner up with nine votes while seven others garnered recognition.

In Toronto, Colangelo is widely considered the savior of a franchise that was immersed in peril. His hiring in February 2006 instantly brought credibility back to an organization that many considered to be in shambles. The infamous Vince Carter trade and the eighth overall selection of Rafael Araujo in the 2004 entry draft turned the Raptors, and former general manager Rob Babcock into the laughing stock of the NBA.

Colangelo almost completely rebuilt the Raptor’s roster a summer ago, bringing in nine new players to a team that managed to win a dismal 27 games in 2005-06. He re-signed Chris Bosh, the franchise cornerstone to a three-year extension. He signed Spanish forward Jorge Garbajosa and two-time Euroleague MVP Anthony Parker as free agents.

He drafted the smooth shooting, seven-foot forward Andrea Bargnani with the first overall pick in last year’s draft, making the rookie from Italy the first European born player to be chosen at No.1. He also made a series of trades to rid the Raptors of any Babcock influence, moving Araujo, disgruntled forward Eric Williams and fan favorite Charlie Villanueva while adding center Rasho Nesterovic, forward Kris Humphries and guard T.J. Ford.

Though many believed Colangelo would hire a head coach of his preference, he held enough confidence in head coach Sam Mitchell to keep him around for his last season under contract. Both Mitchell and Colangelo went on to receive top honors in their respective roles while guiding the Raptors to their most successful regular season in team history.

In the Raptors 12-year existence, Colangelo is the first executive to win this prestigious award. He received the same honor in 2005 after signing free-agent Steve Nash and transforming the Phoenix Suns into the perennial powerhouse that they are today.

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