Raptors’ Ujiri alleges he was assaulted by deputy at NBA Finals


Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, centre left, walks with guard Kyle Lowry following an altercation after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., on June 13, 2019. (Tony Avelar/CP)

TORONTO — Raptors president Masai Ujiri alleges he was assaulted by a sheriff’s deputy before a shoving altercation between the two men at Oakland’s Oracle Arena during last year’s NBA Finals.

In a document filed Thursday in a California district court, Ujiri claims Alan Strickland assaulted him, "forcefully shoving him back once and then twice" as Ujiri attempted to make his way on the court following Toronto’s decisive Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The document, a joint filing from Ujiri, the Raptors and team owner Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, was filed to answer a civil lawsuit filed last month by Strickland. It claims Ujiri shoved Strickland only after the initial contact.

"Other than the shoves, the two men did not have any further physical contact with each other," the document says. "The entire encounter between Mr. Strickland and Mr. Ujiri was brief. Mr. Ujiri was eventually escorted to the court where he joined his team, accepted the championship trophy, and gave a live on camera interview."

Strickland and his wife Kelly Strickland filed a civil claim Feb. 10 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.

Strickland alleges that as a result of the altercation, 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."

Ujiri, the Raptors, MLSE and the NBA, which filed a separate response Thursday, were also named as defendants in the lawsuit. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

All defendants requested a trial by jury in their responses.

Strickland’s civil suit was filed after prosecutors decided in October not to press criminal charges against Ujiri.

"It’s malicious in a way," Ujiri said last month. "To me it’s incredible that things play out like that. I think something incredible was taken away from me and I will never forget it. It is one of the things that drives me to win another championship because I want to be able to celebrate a championship the right way.

"This thing will be settled. The truth will come out. The truth will come out of this."

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