NBA Rumor: Masai Ujiri Case

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Ujiri was emotional. He is intimately familiar with how it feels to be wronged by police just because you’re a Black man. The week prior, body cam footage from the 2019 NBA Finals had surfaced, showing a white police officer grabbing and shoving Masai as he tried to step on the court after his Raptors beat the Warriors for the championship. There it was, plain as day: Even a powerful Black man, the president of an NBA team, wasn’t safe from being brutalized by the police. Ujiri knew he had to show his players before they saw it elsewhere. “I cried when I showed the players my video,” he says. “And I cried when I got the video from the lawyer. And when my wife watched it [with me]… That was emotional, and I cried again.” In hindsight, Ujiri says he doesn’t regret returning to the bubble: “Honestly, Taylor, sports brings us all together. We have the ability to address these issues head-on and galvanize and hope for change and try to create that change. We have to be in that space, and the bubble was that space at that time.”

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Lawyers for Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri say a law enforcement officer’s court motion should be denied, calling allegations about a confrontation between the two at the 2019 NBA Finals “a complete fabrication.” Ujiri’s legal team filed its response on Monday to Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland’s motion to the United States District Court in California, which came in the aftermath of the Raptors executive’s counterclaim earlier this year.

In Monday’s filing, which refers to Ujiri’s credential as ‘invalid,’ Strickland’s attorneys explained what threats their client was facing when the Raptors President attempted to walk onto the floor. ‘… as is self-evident from the video, had Deputy Strickland not employed force, he would have risked having the suspect not only trespass onto the court, he would have risked the suspect quickly getting lost amid the growing crowd of folks authorized to be on the court, and potentially committing any number of possibly serious crimes,’ read Monday’s filing, obtained by the Daily Mail.

‘After all, this was a high-profile sporting event, which entailed a risk of crimes ranging from vandalism to assaults on players (e.g., the 1993 fan’s stabbing of tennis great Monica Seles), assaults on coaches (e.g., the 2002 assault of Royals Coach Tom Gamboa by two fans), player-fan brawls (the 2004 brawl involving numerous fans and players at the end of a Pistons-Pacers NBA game), and even mass murder or terrorism (e.g., the mass murder of Israeli athletes by terrorists at the Munich Olympics).’

The Alameda County (Calif.) sheriff’s deputy suing Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri for assault after Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals in Oakland accused the executive of exploiting current “pervasive anti-law enforcement prejudices” to paint himself as a victim when in fact he had broken the NBA’s own security rules, in a new court filing today. In August, Ujiri filed a countersuit against Alan Strickland, who was working as a security guard and not for the sheriff’s department that night when he physically prevented Ujiri from accessing the Oracle Arena court for the Raptors’ Finals trophy presentation. The countersuit included bodycam footage that appears to support Ujiri’s contention that Strickland shoved Ujiri twice.

But in Tuesday’s filing, Strickland wrote that Ujiri did not have the proper credential, and the NBA had previously warned security to be on the lookout for unauthorized persons trying to gain access to the court. “The body camera video which plaintiff produced on July 17, 2020 did not reveal any new information to Defendants,” Strickland wrote, arguing it only provided a new angle of what arena footage already showed. “In reality, Defendants brought this motion to take advantage of the now pervasive anti-law enforcement prejudices and to falsely allege racial animus and prejudicial bias is the reason for Plaintiff Alan Strickland’s conduct on the date of the incident.”



3 months ago via ESPN

Ujiri’s countersuit, which includes the Raptors, the NBA and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment as plaintiffs, says that Strickland falsified their encounter and attempted to portray Ujiri as “the initial aggressor and an inherently violent individual.” It goes on to call Strickland’s account “a complete fabrication” that has been contradicted by video footage. In a statement released later Tuesday, the Raptors said the new video evidence proves Ujiri “was not an aggressor, but instead was the recipient of two very violent, unwarranted actions.”

“Sadly, Mr. Strickland’s dishonest account of the encounter is a narrative that has become somewhat familiar: a law enforcement officer using their position, engages in unjustified violence against a peaceful individual, then lies about the encounter by characterizing the victim as the aggressor,” the court filing said. “To be sure, the great majority of law enforcement officers do not conduct themselves in this way. Mr. Strickland, however, has chosen dishonesty over integrity. Motivated by greed (and perhaps revenge), Mr. Strickland continues to lie about his encounter with Mr. Ujiri in an attempt to support his frivolous lawsuit.”

Attached to tonight’s filing are three declarations from Warriors fans who support Ujiri’s version of the incident. “I witnessed Deputy Strickland put out his arm and touch Mr. Ujiri,” wrote Greg Wiener. “I witnessed Mr. Ujiri then brush Deputy Strickland’s arm away. I witnessed Deputy Strickland then push Mr. Ujiri in the chest and Mr. Ujiri subsequently push Deputy Strickland in the chest with two hands. When Mr. Ujiri pushed Deputy Strickland, I saw that Mr. Ujiri’s hands landed squarely on Deputy Strickland’s chest. Deputy Strickland did not fall to the ground during the altercation. 4. After the altercation, Deputy Strickland resumed his post to my immediate left-hand side and did not appear to be injured.” In his counterclaim, Ujiri is seeking “nominal and punitive damages.”

The Alameda County sheriff’s deputy who claims he was injured in a shoving match with a Toronto Raptors executive may have to repay the county $142,000. That’s because the county wants Deputy Alan Strickland to return all of the money he’s received so far in worker’s compensation benefits if he prevails in his federal lawsuit against the Raptors, president Masai Ujiri, Maple Leaf Sports and the NBA. The exact amount that the county has paid out so far since the high-profile June 2019 shoving match is $142,984. As of four months ago, Strickland had not returned back to work.

The Alameda County sheriff’s deputy who claims he was injured in a shoving match with a Toronto Raptors executive may have to repay the county $142,000. That’s because the county wants Deputy Alan Strickland to return all of the money he’s received so far in worker’s compensation benefits if he prevails in his federal lawsuit against the Raptors, president Masai Ujiri, Maple Leaf Sports and the NBA. The exact amount that the county has paid out so far since the high-profile June 2019 shoving match is $142,984. As of four months ago, Strickland had not returned back to work.

Daniel Wallach: NEW: County of Alameda files a $142K lien against the police officer who sued Raptors president Masai Ujiri for assaulting him during last year’s NBA Finals celebration. County seeks offset for amounts paid to officer as workers comp benefits claimed from same incident.

Masai Ujiri: I can’t write about this issue without acknowledging what happened to me last June. It’s been widely reported, but I’ll summarize it again. Our team had just won the NBA championship and I was rushing to get on the court to celebrate. I was stopped, physically stopped, by a police officer, and the confrontation turned nasty. There’s a lawsuit that’s still before the courts – he is suing me – so I can’t say too much. But I will say this: If it was another team president heading for the court – a white team president – would he have been stopped by that officer? I’ve wondered that. I recognize what happened in Oakland last June is very different from what happened in Minneapolis last Monday. My own experience only cost me a moment; Mr. Floyd’s experience cost him his life.

Years before he got into an altercation with a Toronto Raptors executive after the team beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals at Oracle Arena, an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested and convicted of insurance fraud. The revelations raise new questions about the deputy’s integrity, legal experts say, in a case that drew widespread attention and became a glaring distraction amid one of the Bay Area’s most high-profile recent moments in sports.

Years before he got into an altercation with a Toronto Raptors executive after the team beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals at Oracle Arena, an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested and convicted of insurance fraud. The revelations raise new questions about the deputy’s integrity, legal experts say, in a case that drew widespread attention and became a glaring distraction amid one of the Bay Area’s most high-profile recent moments in sports.

The Oakland Police Department has handed its investigation into Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri over to a district attorney, following a physical altercation last month between Mr. Ujiri and an unnamed sheriff’s deputy over access to the court following the NBA Finals. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley received the police report into the dispute this week, her office confirmed. The DA’s office has asked the police to conduct additional investigations, said spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, and has not yet made a decision on whether to charge Mr. Ujiri with any crime.

“I’ve known Masai Ujiri for a long time,” Silver says … “I know he’s a very decent person. But, at the same time, we of course respect law enforcement that does a great job protecting our fans in the arena.” “So, there’s been an allegation here, so it’s our job to look into the facts and make sure that everything’s handled appropriately.” Silver says he won’t speculate on a possible punishment for Ujiri if he’s found guilty of the allegations … saying, “I don’t want to prejudge it” before all the facts come in.

Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Friday that Raptors President Masai Ujiri hit the deputy with his arm on the side of his face as Ujiri shoved him to try to get onto the court after the Raptors won the NBA championship on Thursday in Oakland. Kelly says Ujiri also shouted obscenities at the deputy. He says the incident started when Ujiri tried to walk past the deputy, who was checking credentials. Kelly says investigators are reviewing footage from body cameras worn by the deputy and other officers, the stadium’s surveillance video and cellphone video.
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