National Sports

Raptors exec counter sues deputy over NBA Finals shoving match

Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri celebrates his team's championship-clinching victory over the Golden State Warriors in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals - Lachlan Cunningham / ©AFP
Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri celebrates his team's championship-clinching victory over the Golden State Warriors in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals - Lachlan Cunningham / ©AFP

(AFP)

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse hopes team president Masai Ujiri will find “closure” after counter-suing a California deputy over an altercation as the team celebrated its 2019 championship win.

Ujiri’s lawyers filed the suit in US District Court in Oakland, California, on Tuesday, releasing body camera video that shows the deputy grabbing Ujiri by the suit jacket and telling him to back up as Ujiri tried to show his credential allowing him access to the court.

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After the two exchanged words, Nigerian-born Ujiri can be seen holding up his credential, only for Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland to shove him again, at which point Ujiri shoves him back.

“After being shoved and cursed at, Mr. Ujiri did not respond aggressively towards Mr. Strickland,” the suit says.

“Instead, he calmly asked Mr. Strickland why he had pushed him, informed Mr. Strickland he was the Raptors’ President, and held up his all-access arena credential to show it to Mr. Strickland.

“Rather than trying to communicate with Mr. Ujiri, Mr. Strickland chose to dismiss Mr. Ujiri’s claim that he was the Raptors’ President and ignore the all-access credential Mr. Ujiri was trying to show him … Mr. Ujiri’s defensive response was a reasonable and justified reaction to Mr. Strickland’s use of unnecessary and excessive force.”

Strickland had filed a lawsuit in February claiming that Ujiri assaulted him after Toronto’s victory, causing him lasting bodily and psychological injury.

Nurse, speaking before the Raptors’ NBA playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets in Orlando, Florida, called the video “disappointing.

“It probably ruins a night of tremendous celebration for Masai, with the actions of the officer,” Nurse said.

“I’m sure he still felt pretty good about the win, but it had to dampen that.

“It’s been over a year, right, so it’s good to kind of maybe get close to some closure on it.”

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