Star guard Kyle Lowry was there when Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri needed help. Ujiri became involved in an altercation with Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland while trying to reach the court, shortly after Toronto had clinched its first NBA title last June in Oakland, Calif. The video emerged earlier this week showing the altercation, which was followed by Lowry pulling Ujiri on to the court and then hugging the Raptors executive. On Tuesday, after the officer filed a lawsuit, Ujiri also filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif.
On Thursday, during a videoconference, Lowry told reporters that the video shows why they are supportive of the social injustices that are going on right now. He stated that it shows why they are supportive of Black Lives Matter and why they need to get out there and vote. He added that the video shows why they need to get those guys to arrest the murderers of Breonna Taylor because there are police officers like that officer out there who are scumbags.
Later Thursday, Ujiri released a statement, giving his first thoughts on the video. He stated that he was reminded at that moment; some people will always and only see him as something unworthy of respectful engagement, despite all of his hard work and success. Being a Black is the only indisputable reason why that is the case. He added that what saddens him the most about that occurrence is that the only reason he was getting the justice he deserves was because of his success. He confirmed that being the president of an NBA team would enable him to access resources that could ensure he demands and fight for his justice. He concluded by saying black lives matter.
After a 104-99 victory on Wednesday, Toronto leads its opening-round playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets 2-0. Raptors forward Serge Ibaka indicated that he wished the incident never happened. Ibaka added, “It’s kind of sad because honestly, I don’t think anybody believed in Masai when he said he was innocent. 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.”