Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has filed a countersuit in the aftermath of a lawsuit filed by a law enforcement officer following an altercation at the NBA Finals last June.
Ujiri’s countersuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif.
New video of the altercation was released with the countersuit on Tuesday and shows an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy shoving Ujiri twice in the chest during a sideline altercation at Oakland’s Oracle Arena after the Raptors won the NBA title over the Golden State Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals.
In the video, Ujiri is seen trying to get on the court to celebrate his team’s championship win before he is stopped by deputy Alan Strickland, who put his arm in front of the Raptors president. Ujiri, who can be seen tucking his credentials into his suit pocket in body-camera footage, was then pushed in the chest by Strickland as an onlooker tries to get the deputy’s attention by grabbing his shoulder. Strickland then pushes Ujiri a second time, before the Raptors president shoves him back.
Strickland is suing Ujiri for damages, alleging he suffered “injury to his head, body, health, strength, nervous system and person, all of which caused and continue to cause great mental, physical, emotional and psychological pain and suffering.”
Strickland and his wife, Kelly Strickland, are seeking US$75,000 in general damages, as well as other compensation including punitive damages, lost wages, current and future medical expenses and legal costs.
The Raptors, team owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and the NBA were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
In a statement obtained by Sportsnet Tuesday evening, a Raptors spokesperson said the team has always maintained the claims against Ujiri are “baseless and entirely without merit.”
“We are mindful this remains before the courts, but we have always maintained that the claims made against Masai are baseless and entirely without merit,” the statement said. “We believe this video evidence shows exactly that – Masai was not an aggressor, but instead was the recipient of two very violent, unwarranted actions. The events of that evening cast a pall over what should have been a night of celebration, and the year since.
“While Masai has the full backing of Raptors and MLSE as he fights this injustice, we are aware that not all people have similar support and resources. This is a spurious legal action that MLSE, the NBA, and especially Masai should not be facing.”
Raptors coach Nick Nurse says the video is self-explanatory and could have ruined a night of celebration for Ujiri.
With files from The Canadian Press