OAKLAND, Calif. - In his first formal legal statement since the high-profile shoving match during the NBA finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri fired back, alleging it was the deputy who assaulted him.
Ujiri's side of the story was documented in a 15-page response filed Thursday by his law firm, Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy in Burlingame.
Ujiri rebutted every allegation made by Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Alan Strickland, who first filed a federal suit against Ujiri in February, accusing the basketball executive of striking him in the face on June 13 after the Raptors beat the Warriors.
As Ujiri tells it, he was waiting in the tunnel that leads to the players' locker room and walked to the arena floor, stopping for a moment to hug his wife.
Then Ujiri said he started heading to the court to congratulate his team, accept the trophy and do a live interview for television, according to the new court filing.
As he tried to "fulfill his duties as Raptors' president," Strickland "assaulted him, forcefully shoving him back once, then twice," the legal response states.
Ujiri then shoved Strickland in the chest, according to his response.
"Other than the shoves, the two men did not have any further physical contact with each other. The entire encounter between Mr. Strickland and Mr. Ujiri was brief," the legal response states.
Alan Strickland uses a power saw in his garage. He filed a federal lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors saying he was assaulted and can't return to work. February 2020
Strickland, who has not returned to work since the shoving match, has held fast to his version of the story: Ujiri was not properly displaying his credentials to step onto the court and as a deputy, he reached out to stop him.
Strickland and his attorneys have not returned repeated calls and emails for comment.
But Strickland testified in a workers' compensation claim that Ujiri "circumvented” the security checkpoint and then tried to “storm” the court and “hit him in the face and chest with both fists.” And Strickland said he suffered physical injuries to his head, jaw, chin and teeth, according to his claims. His suit formally claims assault and battery.
The sheriff's office forwarded the case to the District Attorney, who decided last fall not to pursue any criminal charges against Ujiri.
Last month, KTVU reported that Strickland pleaded no contest to insurance fraud in 2005 when he was applying to be a San Mateo police officer, a job he didn't get.
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