Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri is being investigated by the Alameda County (California) Sheriff’s Office after allegedly pushing an officer as he tried to walk on to the Oracle Arena floor to celebrate his team’s NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
As NBC Bay Area first reported, witnesses claim that a person they identified as Ujiri, 48, pushed a police officer twice, striking him in the face at one point.
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told the Daily Mail that his department is pursuing charges of misdemeanor assault on an officer.
‘The incident is being looked at, and we are cooperating with authorities,’ a Raptors spokesperson told the Daily Mail. ‘We look forward to resolving the situation.’
As NBC Bay Area first reported, witnesses claim that a person they identified as Masai Ujiri (dark grey suit) pushed a police officer twice, striking him in the face at one point. Video from the immediate aftermath of the incident does not show Ujiri making any physical contact with police, but a man can be seen desperately preventing one officer from getting to the Raptors President. It is not clear who that man is, but he did appear to be wearing a credential
Ujiri is congratulated by his counterpart, Warriors president Bob Myers, after Thursday’s win
Video from the immediate aftermath of the incident does not show Ujiri making any physical contact with police, but a man can be seen desperately preventing one officer from getting to the Raptors President. It is not clear who that man is, but he did appear to be wearing a credential.
According to NBC Bay Area, the incident is being investigated as misdemeanor battery of an officer and it is being investigated by both the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Oakland Police Department.
Sgt. Ray Kelly told The Chronicle that a Raptors executive, whom he did not identify, attempted to gain access to the court but was denied by a deputy because he lacked a proper credential.
Born in England, Ujiri grew up in Nigeria and eventually came to the United States to play high school and collegiate basketball
‘(The deputy) did not know who the man was and asked for the credential, and that’s when he tried to push past our deputy, and our deputy pushed him back, and there was another push that kind of moved up and struck our deputy in the face,’ Kelly said. ‘At that point, several bystanders intervened and the executive did ultimately get back onto the court without displaying credentials.’
Following the encounter, the deputy learned that the man was Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Kelly said.
Ujiri did ultimately get down to the floor for post-game festivities, interviews, and photographs.
‘It’s not like we were going to chase him down,’ Kelly said. ‘He had a right to be there, but he didn’t follow the credential policy.’
The investigation is expected to be wrapped up by next week, according to Kelly.
Some of the action was captured by Ben Baller, a local jeweler who claims he saw everything
A jeweler known as Ben Baller tweeted about the altercation.
‘The GM of the raptors just pushed a sheriff in here who was fully dressed in tactical gear,’ Ben Baller tweeted, mistakenly referring to Ujiri as the team’s general manager. ‘I never seen such an insane bold move like that. The cop backed down and was low key shook. I mean push like f*** you mama push. Wow!!!!’
Ujiri is known for being fiery and spontaneous.
During a rally before a playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, Ujiri yelled ‘f*** Brooklyn’ into a microphone for the benefit of Raptors fans.
Born in England, Ujiri grew up in Nigeria and eventually came to the United States to play high school and collegiate basketball.
After six years of playing in Europe, Ujiri was hired by Denver Nuggets star-turned executive Kiki Vandeweghe as an international scout. He then moved on to a brief stint as the assistant general manager of the Raptors before returning to Denver as general manager, eventually winning NBA Executive of the Year in 2013.
Ujiri then signed became the Raptors general manager in 2013 and was quickly promoted to president.
And now that the Raptors team he constructed has won its first NBA title, Ujiri is expected to see even more job offers.
According to ESPN, the struggling Washington Wizards are preparing an offer that would pay Ujiri at least $10 million annually.
Ujiri did ultimately get down to the floor for post-game festivities, interviews, and photographs