SportsPulse: Trysta Krick tries to make sense of what we saw over the course of six games between the Raptors and Warriors and how it will have an echoing affect going forward. USA TODAY
OAKLAND — The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday morning it is pursuing a misdemeanor complaint against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri for battery of a police officer after an altercation following Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, a spokesman for the department told USA TODAY Sports.
Ujiri is accused of twice shoving an officer and striking him in the face after he was stopped from coming onto the court to join the Raptors’ postgame celebration at the Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena because he did not display a proper credential, according to police. Video of the aftermath of that incident was captured by NBC Bay Area, which was the first to report the complaint against Ujiri.
Ujiri appears to be holding a credential in his right hand in the video, and he also appears to be holding a credential in the same hand in a video that shows him watching the end of the game from the tunnel — before the incident occurred. However, per NBA rules, only personnel with specially designated gold armbands were allowed on the court after the conclusion of the game, and it’s unclear if Ujiri was wearing one or had one in his possession.
“We were told to strictly enforce the credentialing policy and not allow anyone onto the court without a credential, so our deputies were doing that,” Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said. “Our deputy contacted Mr. Masai Ujiri as he attempted to walk onto the court. He had no credential displayed, and our deputy asked for his credential.
“Mr. Ujiri didn’t produce them and pushed our deputy out of the way to gain access to the court. At that point our deputy tried to stop him and pushed him backward and then Mr. Ujiri came back with a second shove, a more significant push that, with his forward momentum, his arm struck our deputy in the face.
“At that point our deputy pushed Mr. Ujiri away again and some NBA security people and others intervened and he ended up walking onto the court.”
Kelly declined to name the officer and said the police chose not to detain Ujiri on the court because it wouldn’t have been in “anyone’s best interests” to do that on national television, as the Raptors were preparing for the postgame trophy ceremony.
“We decided to take the high road in light of their victory but will submit a report for complaint,” Kelly said.
It will be up to the district attorney whether charges are brought against Ujiri.
“We’ve got two countries involved in this,” Kelly said. “It’s not something we wanted to have happen. It didn’t have to go this route.”
A Raptors spokesperson told USA TODAY Sports Friday morning that the team is aware of the situation but had no further comment at the time.
Ujiri, 48, has been president of the Raptors for six seasons, and he has been instrumental in helping bring Toronto its first title in franchise history while overseeing all facets of basketball operations.
ESPN reported after the game that the Washington Wizards are preparing to offer Ujiri, who has two years remaining on his contract with the Raptors, a lucrative deal to run the team’s basketball operations while also giving him the opportunity for ownership equity.
Ujiri previously worked with the Denver Nuggets, where he was named 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year. He got his front-office start in Toronto in 2007 as director of global scouting.
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