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SportsPulse: Trysta Krick tries to make sense of what we saw over the course of six games between the Raptors and Warriors and how it will have an echoing affect going forward.
USA TODAY

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday morning it is pursuing a misdemeanor complaint against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri for battery of a police officer after an altercation following Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, a spokesman for the department told USA TODAY Sports. 

Ujiri is accused of twice shoving an officer and striking him in the face after he was stopped from coming onto the court to join the Raptors’ postgame celebration at the Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena because he did not display a proper credential, according to police. Video of the aftermath of that incident was captured by NBC Bay Area, which was the first to report the complaint against Ujiri. 

Ujiri appears to be holding a credential in his right hand in the video, and he also appears to be holding a credential in the same hand in a video that shows him watching the end of the game from the tunnel — before the incident occurred. However, per NBA rules, only personnel with specially designated gold armbands were allowed on the court after the conclusion of the game, and it’s unclear if Ujiri was wearing one or had one in his possession.

“We were told to strictly enforce the credentialing policy and not allow anyone onto the court without a credential, so our deputies were doing that,” Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said. “Our deputy contacted Mr. Masai Ujiri as he attempted to walk onto the court. He had no credential displayed, and our deputy asked for his credential.

“Mr. Ujiri didn’t produce them and pushed our deputy out of the way to gain access to the court. At that point our deputy tried to stop him and pushed him backward and then Mr. Ujiri came back with a second shove, a more significant push that, with his forward momentum, his arm struck our deputy in the face.

“At that point our deputy pushed Mr. Ujiri away again and some NBA security people and others intervened and he ended up walking onto the court.”

Kelly declined to name the officer and said the police chose not to detain Ujiri on the court because it wouldn’t have been in “anyone’s best interests” to do that on national television, as the Raptors were preparing for the postgame trophy ceremony. 

“We decided to take the high road in light of their victory but will submit a report for complaint,” Kelly said. 

It will be up to the district attorney whether charges are brought against Ujiri. 

MORE COVERAGE: Catch up on everything surrounding the wild ending to the NBA Finals

Greg Wiener, a Warriors season-ticket holder who says he was at the game with his son and was about “three inches away” from the officer during the incident, told USA TODAY Sports on Friday afternoon that the police’s account is “not entirely true.”

“(Ujiri) had (his credential) in his hand and his hand was down by his side,” he said. “It looked like he was trying to get it up. As Ujiri came forward, the cop stepped forward and put his hand on his chest and basically said, ‘Nobody can go past this point.’ He just stopped him. Ujiri didn’t say anything, he didn’t get his badge up, then the cop kind of pushed him back, then Ujiri shoved him. I mean, hard.

” … The thing that I’m pushing back on is where they’re saying that the cop asked for his credentials. Yeah, he didn’t ask. … There was no conversation at all.”

Wiener, who has been going to Warriors games for “about 45 years,” added that he “didn’t see” Ujiri strike the officer in the face and said “the cop initiated the contact, no doubt about it.”

The Raptors said in a statement to The Associated Press that the team is cooperating with authorities and looking into the incident. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said that the league is in contact with the Raptors and police and is in the process of gathering more information.

Ujiri, 48, has been president of the Raptors for six seasons, and he has been instrumental in helping bring Toronto its first title in franchise history while overseeing all facets of basketball operations. 

ESPN reported after the game that the Washington Wizards are preparing to offer Ujiri, who has two years remaining on his contract with the Raptors, a lucrative deal to run the team’s basketball operations while also giving him the opportunity for ownership equity.

Ujiri previously worked with the Denver Nuggets, where he was named 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year. He got his front-office start in Toronto in 2007 as director of global scouting.

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