In the immediate aftermath of his first championship as an NBA executive, Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri did what any of us would do: He turned up.
Unfortunately, prior to doing so, he somehow got involved in a scuffle with a police officer, and now the 2013 NBA Executive of the Year is being...sued?
Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is being sued for damages by the police officer who alleged that Ujiri assaulted him in the moments after Toronto’s victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals, according to a suit filed in California last week.
The suit alleges that Ujiri struck the officer—Alan Strickland, who was identified in the lawsuit for the first time since the incident took place—in the face and chest with both fists as he attempted to reach the court in the wake of Toronto winning the first NBA championship in franchise history.
After the two men were separated, Ujiri eventually was able to make it onto the court to celebrate with the rest of the Raptors.
In his lawsuit, Strickland alleges that he incurred “injury to his body, health, strength, activity and person” and that he continues to suffer “great mental, emotional, psychological, physical, and nervous pain and suffering.” He also alleges that the incident caused him “permanent disability” and that he’s experienced “great anxiety, embarrassment, anger, loss of enjoyment of life, injury to reputation and severe emotional and physical distress in an amount to be determined at trial.”
As a result of such a seemingly catastrophic injury—more on that later—Strickland (with his wife, Kelly, who is listed as a co-plaintiff in the suit) is seeking punitive damages, payment of all medical and incidental expenses (both to date and any required in the future), reimbursement of lost wages, legal costs for filing the lawsuit and at least $75,000 in general damages. The couple has also requested a jury trial.
Now after hearing all of this, you would’ve thought Ujiri slammed this dude’s head against his own car—like Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Blount did in December—or maybe even knocked his teeth out—like officers Robert Johnson and Robert Wong did to a 16-year-old teenager in Stockton, Calif. But according to eyewitnesses, none of the above happened.
From NBC Sports:
“From what I saw it was just shoving,” Lucas Abrenica, 20, said. “There were no punches thrown or anything like that.”
Ben Baller, 46, told The Globe that Ujiri identified himself with a credential, which Kelly said was not the right one to get the executive on the court. Baller told the paper that “others in the area started shouting” Ujiri’s position, but the deputy pushed him and “shook his head ‘no.’ “
Greg Wiener, 61, said Ujiri “brushed” away the deputy’s arm after he blocked his path to the court, “then the deputy got a little bit more aggressive,” pushing Ujiri first.
“That’s when Mr. Ujiri pushed the deputy hard,” Wiener said.
So imagine attempting to celebrate your greatest professional achievement—which for me would be the first time I cracked a crab leg without breaking the meat in half—and somebody not only prevents you from doing so,\ but shoves your ass out the way.
Yeah, I’d be pretty pissed too.
There’s also the uncomfortable dynamic of a successful black man being accused of acting completely out of character by assaulting a police officer.
Do I believe a shoving match of some sort happened? Of course. But do I believe, for even a millisecond, that Ujiri assaulted a police officer? Helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll nah.
So on behalf of the Black Delegation, I call bullshit. And nobody else is buying this frivolous lawsuit either.