The local sheriff’s office in Oakland is pursuing a complaint against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who allegedly assaulted a sheriff’s deputy shortly after the team defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
NBC Bay Area initially reported that the deputy with Alameda County Sheriff’s Office was allegedly pushed and struck in the face by Ujiri at Oracle Arena.
The alleged incident happened after the officer denied Ujiri access to the court “because he didn’t have the proper credentials,” The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tells CityNews the NBA had asked them to strictly enforce the credential policy as they did not want fans or unauthorized personnel trying to get onto the floor for the trophy presentation
Kelly says Ujiri came from the back of the arena to the court and ignored the officer’s request to show his credential.
“The NBA has a credential process and everyone has to present them, whether you’re a player, a member of the team, a member of the media,” said Kelly. “We did not know who he was.”
Kelly says Ujiri then allegedly pushed the deputy, who pushed Ujiri back. When Ujiri allegedly pushed the officer again, Kelly says his arm struck the officer in the jaw.
A Warriors fan who witnessed the incident told The Associated Press that the sheriff’s deputy didn’t ask for any credentials before putting his hand on Ujiri’s chest and pushing him. Greg Wiener, a 61-year-old season ticket holder, said Ujiri then shoved the officer back before bystanders intervened.
Wiener said he was standing next to the officer when the encounter occurred but was not interviewed by authorities.
A video shows the moments after the alleged altercation as a man attempts to break up. Kyle Lowry comes into the shot shortly after, pulling Ujiri away.
#BREAKING: Sheriff's deputy reportedly pushed and struck in the face by a man believed to be a Toronto Raptors executive after Game 6 of the #NBAFinals at Oracle Arena, @ACSOSheriffs says. https://t.co/fobdK9iWEq pic.twitter.com/a4X0IysY5Z
— Kristofer Noceda (@krisnoceda) June 14, 2019
Ujiri appears to be holding a credential in his hand but its uncertain if he had the right credentials to get him onto the basketball floor at the conclusion of the game.
Per NBA rules, only personnel with specially designated gold armbands were allowed on the court after the game and it’s unclear if Ujiri was wearing one or had one in his possession.
Ujiri was eventually allowed onto the court for the celebration after NBA security people and others intervened, according to police.
Kelly says the Raptors president was not arrested as they “decided to take the high road” when handling this incident.
“We didn’t want to take away from the significant victory for the team,” he tells CityNews. “It was unfortunate, it didn’t have to happen.”
Kelly says they have filed a complaint of misdemeanour battery on an officer against Ujiri and it will be up to the district attorney whether or not charges are filed.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said it expected to look into the matter sometime next week.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said Friday the league is in contact with the Raptors and authorities while gathering more information.
The Raptors said in a statement that the team is co-operating with authorities and looking into the incident and that it looks forward to resolving the situation.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says he has not seen video of the incident but called Ujiri “one of the finest people I know.’
“I believe he is incapable of uncivilized behaviour. I just think anybody who knows anything about him would know that some notion that he’d be shoving people around in Oakland or in Toronto or anywhere else in the world is not credible,” Tory said.
“He is just one of the most finest, most decent, most peaceful, lovable people that you could possibly imagine.”
Peach Lowry rescuing the man who traded his best friend wow pic.twitter.com/LO6tDtfXLx
— PLAYOFF Mickstape (@MickstapeShow) June 14, 2019