NBA

Sheriff's deputy accuses Masai Ujiri of falsely alleging 'racial animus' in counterclaim

Lawyers for a U.S. law enforcement officer accuse Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri of making race a key part of his counterclaim to a lawsuit in the aftermath of an altercation between the two at last year's NBA Finals.

Security guard's legal team alleges counterclaim is being driven by race, bias against law enforcement

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, seen with Kyle Lowry on June 13, 2019, after the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals at Oakland's Oracle Arena, alleges that he was assaulted by a sheriff's deputy while trying to access the court. (Tony Avelar/The Associated Press)

Lawyers for a U.S. law enforcement officer accuse Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri of making race a key part of his counterclaim to a lawsuit in the aftermath of an altercation between the two at last year's NBA Finals.

In filings to the United States District Court in California, Alameda County sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland's legal team alleges Ujiri's counterclaim is driven by race and a bias against law enforcement.

Ujiri's counterclaim last month included a video of the altercation, which showed Strickland taking the first shove at the Raptors executive as he tried to get onto the court after the team won the NBA championship over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., last June.

WATCH | New video shows Masai Ujiri being shoved after Raptors won championship: 

New video shows Masai Ujiri was shoved first in NBA Finals altercation

Sports

3 months agoVideo
3:14
New footage gives a clearer picture of what happened when Raptors president Masai Ujiri tried to get onto the court after the team won the NBA championship in June 2019 and then found himself in an altercation with a sheriff's deputy. The video shows the deputy shoving Ujiri twice. 3:14

Ujiri says he was reminded in that moment that some people will see him as "unworthy of respectful engagement" because he is Black.

In the court documents, Strickland's team says the counterclaim is a "wilful attempt to mislead the media and the public and taint the jury pool."

The filings also say Ujiri did not display the proper credentials needed for access to the court, leading to the altercation.

"In reality, Defendants brought this motion to take advantage of the now pervasive anti-law enforcement prejudices and to falsely allege racial animus and prejudicial bias is the reason for Plaintiff Alan Strickland's conduct on the date of the incident," the document reads.

WATCH | Toronto Mayor John Tory says it's time for sheriff's deputy to move forward:

Mayor Tory says Alameda County deputy needs to 'move on' from attacks on Ujiri

Sports

3 months agoVideo
1:32
John Tory responds to the latest development in Raptors' president Masai Ujiri's lawsuit against an Alameda County sheriff's deputy. 1:32

Strickland's team says he was following orders from NBA executives.

"At the pre-game security briefing, security personnel were instructed by NBA Executive Vice-President and Chief Security Officer Jerome Pickett that everyone in both organizations had been briefed and that 'It doesn't matter who they are, who they say they are, you tell them Jerome Pickett says they are not going on the court without proper credentials,' " the document says.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The Raptors declined to comment on the latest court filings.

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