LAKE BUENA VISA, Fla. — When Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri needed help, star guard Kyle Lowry was there.
Shortly after Toronto had clinched its first NBA title last June in Oakland, Calif., Ujiri became involved in an altercation with Alameda County sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland while trying to reach the court. Earlier this week, video emerged showing the altercation, which was followed by Lowry pulling Ujiri on to the court and then hugging the Raptors executive.
On Tuesday, Ujiri filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., after the officer filed a lawsuit.
"It (the video) shows why we’re supportive of the social injustices that are going on right now," Lowry told reporters Thursday during a videoconference. "It shows why we’re supporting of the Black Lives Matter.
"It shows why we need to get out there and vote. It shows why we need to get those guys to arrest the murderers of Breonna Taylor because there’s police officers like that officer out there who are scumbags, basically."
Ujiri released a statement later Thursday, giving his first thoughts on the video.
After what he called an exhilerating triumph, Ujiri said, "I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And there's only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I am Black.
"What saddens me the most about this ordeal is that the only reason I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success. Because I'm the president of an NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice. So many of my brothers and sisters haven't had, don't have, and won't have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that's why Black Lives Matter."
Toronto leads its opening-round playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets 2-0 after a 104-99 victory Wednesday.
Raptors forward Serge Ibaka feels the incident shouldn't have happened.
"It's kind of sad because honestly, I don't think anybody believed in Masai when he said he was innocent," Ibaka said. "Things should never be like this . . . no matter where you come from, no matter your colour, things should never be like that.
"Thank God now everyone can see what happened that day. This connected us to understand this fight is far from being over. We have to stick together and we have to fight this fight together."
Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday that the office stands by everything it has said in regards to the investigation.
He added that the video released is "a snippet of all the video that is out there."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2020.
The Canadian Press