When Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri needed help, star guard Kyle Lowry was there.
Shortly after Toronto had clinched its first NBA title last June in Oakland, Calif., Ujiri became involved in an altercation with Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland while trying to reach the court. Earlier this week, video emerged showing the altercation, which was followed by Lowry pulling Ujiri on to the court and then hugging the Raptors executive.
The officer file a lawsuit. And on Tuesday, Ujiri filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif.
Through his legal team, Ujiri released a statement on Thursday reinforcing his disappointment with the situation.
“It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA,” Ujiri’s statement read.
“Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And, there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I am Black.”
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“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 … So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice,” the statement continued.
“And that’s why Black Lives Matter. And that’s why it’s important for all of us to keep demanding justice. Justice for George. Justice for Breonna. Justice for Elijah. Justice for far too many Black lives that mattered. And justice for Black people around the world, who need our voice and our compassion to save their lives.”
Earlier Thursday, Lowry said the altercation involving Ujiri is an example of why the Raptors support various displays of protest.
“It [the video] shows why we’re supportive of the social injustices that are going on right now,” Lowry told reporters Thursday during a videoconference. “It shows why we’re supporting of the Black Lives Matter.
“It shows why we need to get out there and vote. It shows why we need to get those guys to arrest the murderers of Breonna Taylor, because there’s police officers like that officer out there who are scumbags, basically.”Raptors forward Serge Ibaka feels the incident shouldn’t have happened.
“It’s kind of sad, because honestly, I don’t think anybody believed in Masai when he said he was innocent,” Ibaka said. “Things should never be like this … no matter where you come from, no matter your colour, things should never be like that.
“Thank God now everyone can see what happened that day. This connected us to understand this fight is far from being over. We have to stick together and we have to fight this fight together.”
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Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday that the office stands by everything it has said in regards to the investigation.
He added that the video released is “a snippet of all the video that is out there.”
Toronto leads its opening-round playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets 2-0 after a 104-99 victory Wednesday.