Raptors' Masai Ujiri 'Didn't Sleep' After Release of Sheriff Altercation Video

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIISeptember 17, 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

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has recently been forced to relive a traumatic encounter with Bay Area police following his club's NBA Finals victory last season and it's caused him notable amounts of stress.

Following the release of a video showing Alameda County sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland at the Golden State Warriors' Oracle Arena shoving Ujiri as he tried to celebrate on the court with the Raptors, Ujiri said he's had difficulty sleeping at night. 

"This was very hard for me," Ujiri told reporters. "... When this video came out, I didn't sleep for a few days."

Ujiri said there were two main things that remained on his mind after the video's release. 

At the time of the confrontation, the Toronto executive was hit with false allegations that he instigated the situation and caused harm to the officer. While the video shows that's not what happened, the repeated talking points from police made him wonder if his own memory betrayed him.

"You question yourself and as time goes on you begin to doubt yourself," Ujiri said. "I doubted myself and what really happened there."

Then, after the video became public, Ujiri began to reckon with the fact he was able to push back on the police narrative because of his job, stature and the resources that come with it when many in the Black community cannot do the same. 

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"For me, at the end of the day, I'm privileged," Ujiri said. "At the end of the day, I have support. At the end of the day, I'm able to face this square on. And I just started to think about the people that cannot do this. They cannot do what I can do. ... That began to bother me as a person. And I really struggled in the bubble thinking about all of this."

In a statement posted by the Raptors following the video's release, Ujiri expanded on those thoughts.

"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," Ujiri wrote. "Because I'm the President of a NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice."

Ujiri is currently countersuing Strickland, saying the officer "perpetrated a fraud" by claiming he was injured in the incident. Strickland filed a lawsuit against Ujiri and the Raptors in February, alleging he suffered serious injuries resulting in permanent disability.