Sheriff's Deputy Drops Lawsuit Against Masai Ujiri Over 2019 NBA Finals Incident

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Alex Nino Gheciu
·2 min read
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Image via Getty/Michael Reaves

The California law enforcement official who launched a lawsuit against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri over an altercation at the 2019 NBA Finals has officially dropped the case.

Lawyers for Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland and his wife, Kelly Strickland, filed for dismissal Wednesday in a California district court.

Strickland was seeking US$75,000 in damages, alleging he suffered injuries when he was pushed by Ujiri while the Raptors president was trying to get onto the court following his team’s title-winning victory over the Golden State Warriors on June 13, 2019, at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

Video footage of the incident that later emerged, however, showed that Strickland not only blocked Ujiri’s path to the court but shoved him backwards twice. Ujiri’s words can be heard in the clip: “I am the president of the Raptors. Why are you pushing me?”

Ujiri would eventually file a countersuit, alleging unauthorized use of force by Strickland. That has now also been dropped.

“Masai has been completely vindicated, as we always knew he would be,” an MLSE spokesperson said in a statement. “We are disappointed that he and his family have had to endure the past 18 months of worry and uncertainty, but for their sake we are pleased the legal process has come to an end—and especially pleased that the claims made against Masai and MLSE were dismissed entirely, free of any financial settlement.

“We continue to be deeply troubled by the fact that Masai was put in this position in the first place, and believe he should never have had to defend himself. Masai is taking some time to process the ordeal, and intends to address it publicly at a later date.”

Speaking at a press conference unrelated to the matter on Wednesday, Toronto’s mayor John Tory said the video footage of the incident “really just proved what we all knew to begin with.”

“I don’t think it’s a sour ending when the lawsuit is dropped, it’s kind of a sour process that went on because I knew from the beginning, I said months ago as many people in Toronto would feel, anybody who’s ever met this man would know this is a man with the finest of characters,” Tory said.

“He’s a role model for many people in this community, he understands that, he lives his life pursuant to that.”

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