Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri released an official statement Thursday in response to new footage of a 2019 NBA Finals incident with a security guard.
Ujiri’s lawyers released the video this week, showing he was not the aggressor in a shoving match with the guard as he attempted to gain access to the court after the Raptors won Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
“Thank you to everybody who has expressed disappointment and concern regarding the video that was recently released,” Ujiri said in the statement. “My family and I are deeply grateful for your care and consideration. 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. It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, 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.”
San Francisco Bay Area police officer Alan Strickland filed a lawsuit against Ujiri, the Raptors, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in February, claiming Ujiri assaulted him, causing “injury to his body, health, strength, activity and person, all of which have caused and continue to cause Plaintiff great mental, emotional, psychological, physical, and nervous pain and suffering.”
On Tuesday, Ujiri, coupled with the franchise and MLSE, filed a countersuit against the Strickland, Tuesday in US District Court in Oakland, Calif The suit includes body camera footage showing Strickland acting as the aggressor as Ujiri attempted to make his way onto the court.
Despite the newly released footage, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is sticking by its story that Ujiri was the instigator during the 2019 altercation.
“We 100 percent stand by [the] original statement that was released that Mr. Ujiri is the aggressor in this incident,” the sheriff’s office said, per CP 24. “Don’t be quick to judge based off of what lawyers are saying.”
Ujiri went on to say that it’s because of his success that he was able to demand justice.
“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. Because I’m the President of a NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice,” he said. “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. And justice for Black people around the world, who need our voice and our compassion to save their lives.”