The Police’s Racist Treatment of Toronto Raptors’ President Masai Ujiri Speaks Volumes

What is it about courtside at the Oakland Arena that really brings out the worst our country has to offer

You may recall, during the 2019 NBA Finals, when Golden State Warriors’ part-owner and venture-capitalist scumbag Mark Stevens took a second out of his night to shove Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and then call him a “piece of shit,” all for the crime of trying hard at his job. It was a moment of pure id from the billionaire class—a rank display of how they regard the people they lord over, even when those people are multi-millionaire future Hall of Famers. 

Maniac Capital’s gnarlier, stouter brother, the Authoritarian Cop, also reared his ugly head at Oakland (then Oracle) that spring, right after the Raptors dispatched the Dubs on their home court and earned the team’s first NBA title. 

Here’s what we heard at the time: Masai Ujiri, one of the league’s best front office executives (and one of only four Black presidents of basketball operations) was walking to center court after the Raptors won, where all the team’s major players were gathering for a trophy ceremony. At the very moment of reaching the height of his profession, he was stopped by Officer Alan Strickland of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, working security for the game. Police spokespeople claimed Ujiri showed his credentials in a threatening manner and punched Kelly twice in the jaw and gave him a concussion

Now, let’s say you were the kind of person who doesn’t always take police statements at face value. You might say, “Huh? One of the most powerful people in professional basketball is punching cops out right after he won the NBA title? Seems fishy to me!” According to most eyewitness accounts at the time, you would have been right. But, even though the county declined to press charges against the advice of the police department, that didn’t stop the County Sheriff’s Office from suing Ujiri, claiming that Strickland was permanently disabled by Ujiri’s brutal storm of martial-arts wizardry. 

And guess what? A whole year-and-a-half later, thanks to bodycam footage released on account of a countersuit filed by Ujiri, it turned out to be total bullshit. 

The footage is undeniable. Ujiri, sporting what is very clearly an extraordinarily expensive, immaculately-tailored suit, is trying to get through to the court and pulling out his credential. Officer Strickland yells, “BACK THE FUCK UP!” in a cop-voice and shoves him, clearly instigating and escalating this interaction that shouldn’t be happening in the first place. Ujiri tries to tell the officer that he’s the Raptors’ president and another person with a credential tries to intervene—only to have Strickland shove Ujiri again. As the footage cuts out, Ujiri appears to attempt a shove back because, you know, he’s just been shoved twice and yelled at for no apparent reason, and then click, it’s over. 

Much in the same way our billionaire pal Mark Stevens acted as a living totem of the venomous excesses of his class, so too is Officer Strickland an easy avatar for rank-and-file police officers’ contempt for Black people. There are more hideous examples of random, wanton police misconduct, of course. The names of their victims probably ring through your head even as you read this sentence. But watching this cop get all shove-y with a guy who was two minutes away from talking on national television about the NBA title he just won really drives home something else about police misconduct happening in the name of maintaining order: it’s stupid. 

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Written by Da Mixx

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