A top Toronto Raptors executive could face criminal charges after allegedly shoving an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy while trying to get to the court following the Raptors’ NBA championship-clinching victory Thursday night in Oakland.
Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ president of basketball operations, allegedly shoved the deputy when the deputy stopped him from walking onto the court at Oracle Arena in the moments after Toronto’s 114-110 Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors, Sgt. Ray Kelly, an Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman, told The Sacramento Bee Friday.
“Ujiri came down to the court as the celebration on the court was happening,” Kelly said. “He approached the court and the deputy asked for his credential. (Ujiri) pushed him and went onto the court. The deputy was not good with that.”
Kelly added that the deputy pushed Ujiri back and again told the NBA executive he could not enter the court.
“It’s Game Six. It’s the NBA Finals. It’s the last game at the Oakland arena. There’s already a strong security presence, but there’s a strictly enforced policy that no one is allowed on the court without the credentials to do so,” Kelly said.
Kelly said Ujiri later gave the deputy a second “significant” shove, pushing the deputy away and inadvertently striking the deputy in the face before joining Raptors players. It wasn’t until several minutes later when NBA security intervened that Alameda County deputies “learned Ujiri was president of the Raptors,” Kelly said, insisting that the deputy was “doing the job that he was told and trained to do.”
The deputy did not know Ujiri, Kelly told the San Francisco Chronicle. In an interview Friday with the Toronto Globe and Mail, he said, “We would expect more from a team president.”
Video from NBC Sports Bay Area shows security stepping in front of Ujiri and restraining a deputy at the end of the incident before Raptors guard Kyle Lowry pulled the team president onto the court followed by a clutch of reporters.
Ujiri was a 2013 NBA Executive of the Year as general manager and executive vice president of the Denver Nuggets, before joining the Raptors that same year.
Ujiri was not arrested in the exchange, but Alameda County Sheriff’s officials and Oakland Police are compiling reports that should land on county prosecutors’ desks next week, Kelly said. Ujiri is being investigated on suspicion of misdemeanor battery on a peace officer.
“We felt it was in the best interest of everybody that we take the high road and not arrest him at the game,” Kelly said, adding “it’s unfortunate that it had to go this route.”
A Raptors official told the Globe and Mail the organization was cooperating with Alameda County authorities and looked forward to a resolution.