Watch Masai Ujiri watch. To know the Nuggets executive, all one needs to do is watch him in front of the tunnel at the Pepsi Center. First, one sees a sharply dressed man stoically standing. The boss. But then, when there's a bad call or something, he'll briefly erupt, arms in the air. He has a fan's passion.

The passionate Ujiri will be rewarded for his work Thursday, when he is named the NBA executive of the year, a source told The Denver Post on Wednesday night. Ujiri, the first African-born general manager in major American sports, put together the Nuggets' roster, a squad that won 57 games — the most in Denver's NBA history.

In 2010-11, Ujiri's first season on the job, Carmelo Anthony forced the Nuggets to trade him to New York. Instead of blowing up the roster, Ujiri's plan was to keep Denver competitive while building with young, affordable players. This season, many of those players on the Nuggets' revamped roster finished in third place in the Western Conference.

Ujiri told The Denver Post last season: "I sit in those GM meetings and look across the room — you see Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, all these guys who you've read about. Am I in awe? Honestly I am, because of the opportunity life has given me. Am I going to compete against those guys? (Heck) yes. That's why I am among those 30 guys — to try to be better than them."