Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri says an altercation with a security guard after last year’s NBA Finals occurred “because I am black”.
Footage aired by Bay Area television station KTVU shows Ujiri was attempting to reach the court after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 to win the title 14 months ago in Oakland, California, when Alameda County deputy Alan Strickland twice aggressively pushed Ujiri before the latter responded with a push of his own.
On Tuesday, Ujiri filed a countersuit against Strickland, who filed suit against Ujiri and the Raptors in February. Strickland claimed he sustained injuries to his head, chin, jaw and teeth due to Ujiri’s shove.
“The video sadly demonstrates how horribly I was treated by a law enforcement officer last year in the midst of my team, the Toronto Raptors, winning its first world championship,” Ujiri said in a statement released through the team.
“It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organisation, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA.
“Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And, there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case – because I am black.”
Ujiri said the incident is receiving a high amount of attention due to his race. He insinuated it only reached that level of interest due to his position as a high-ranking black man.
“What saddens me most about this ordeal is that the only reason why I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success,” said Ujiri, who turned 50 last month.
“Because I’m the president of a NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice.
“So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that’s why Black Lives Matter.
“And that’s why it’s important for all of us to keep demanding justice. Justice for George (Floyd). Justice for Breonna (Taylor). Justice for Elijah (McClain). Justice for far too many black lives that mattered.”
In the video, Strickland stops Ujiri as he approaches the court and pushes him in the chest while Ujiri is reaching into his jacket for his credential.
Onlookers tried to calm down Strickland, but he is seen pushing Ujiri a second time.
Heard on the video, Strickland also told Ujiri to “back the (expletive) up” in between the two shoves. Ujiri then pushed Strickland back and tried to identify himself.
Strickland filed a workers’ compensation claim in which he said Ujiri “hit him in the face and chest with both fists”.