Raptors Held Meeting to Watch Video of Ujiri's 2019 Altercation with Deputy

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

FILE - In this June 13, 2019, file photo, Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri, center left, walks with his arm around guard Kyle Lowry after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif. On Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office announced no criminal charges will be filed against Ujiri for an incident involving Ujiri and an Alameda County sheriff's deputy after Game 6 of the finals. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The Toronto Raptors reportedly took time out of their playoff preparations to meet as a team and view newly released footage of president Masai Ujiri's altercation with an Alameda County Sheriff's Office deputy following their 2019 NBA Finals victory. 

Andrew Lopez of ESPN reported the news, noting the footage was included as part of the countersuit Ujiri filed Tuesday and shows deputy Alan Strickland shoving the Raptors president and yelling at him to "back the f--k up" as he approached the Oracle Arena court with his credentials.

Diamond Leung @diamond83

Masai Ujiri's legal team has released body camera footage of his encounter with a security worker at Oracle Arena after the Raptors won the NBA championship. https://t.co/56XWMpZy0P

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said the altercation calls attention to the larger fight against police brutality and systemic racism those in the league and many others have undertaken, especially following the killing of George Floyd:

"It's heavy stuff. Obviously we're all privileged, and Masai's pretty privileged in his world, and you just stop and think about how good we got it, because there's people who are gonna be in that same situation walking down the street who don't have money to fight the case, who don't have 20,000 people in the stands, and don't have the abilities to countersue. How many times do cops do things like that without the body cam on, without arena footage? It's a tough situation.

"It's just crazy to see how things work. It's unfortunate, and I think that's why we all are in the situation now and fighting for social justice and equality, because you see how quick things can get ugly just by somebody's word, or one bad cop, or a bunch of bad cops, or the system is kind of crooked and it's not designed for us."

Raptors guard Norman Powell echoed those sentiments.

"I'm glad we were able to get to the real bottom line and everyone can see what really happened," Powell said. "It's exactly what we're fighting for, for justice to be served for those cops who are taking the law a little bit into their own hands unnecessarily. We saw it as a team. We're very open and passionate about social justice."

The Raptors also issued a statement after the video was released and supported Ujiri:

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpears

Statement from Raptors on Masai Ujiri incident with police video. https://t.co/OnmLsKLfjF

Despite what the video shows, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said, per Stephanie Smyth of CP24: "We 100 percent stand by [the] original statement that was released that Mr. Ujiri is the aggressor in this incident. Don't be quick to judge based off of what lawyers are saying."

Lisa Fernandez of Fox 2 reported Strickland filed a federal lawsuit in February against Ujiri, the Raptors, Maple Leaf Entertainment and the NBA regarding the incident.

The deputy said he suffered a number of injuries and also filed a workers' compensation claim. According to Strickland, Ujiri had a "violent predisposition" and attempted to "hit him in the face and chest with both fists."

However, Ujiri's attorneys said the video makes it clear that Strickland was "undeniably the initial aggressor."