Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is deeply saddened by the continuous acts of racism and police brutality across North America. As a result, Ujiri wrote a powerful editorial for The Globe and Mail detailing his own experiences with racism, including an incident from Toronto's 2019 NBA championship.
"We all came into this world the same way – as humans. No one is born to be racist and none of us sees colour at first," Ujiri wrote. "I believe there are far more good people than bad people, but sometimes the good must do more than simply be good. They must overwhelm the bad. I can’t write about this issue without acknowledging what happened to me last June. It’s been widely reported, but I’ll summarize it again. Our team had just won the NBA championship and I was rushing to get on the court to celebrate. I was stopped, physically stopped, by a police officer, and the confrontation turned nasty. There’s a lawsuit that’s still before the courts – he is suing me – so I can’t say too much."
But I will say this: If it was another team president heading for the court – a white team president – would he have been stopped by that officer? I’ve wondered that."
The incident Ujiri brings up happened when he was trying to enter the court at Oracle Arena to celebrate the Raptors title victory over the Golden State Warriors. California sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland was guarding the court and tried to prevent Ujiri from entering and claimed he didn't have the proper credentials. Strickland later filed a lawsuit against Ujiri and claimed he was battered and assaulted by the Raptors president of basketball ops, suffering injuries to his head, jaw and teeth.
Ujiri's emotional words come after the death of George Floyd and in reaction to the many protests sweeping the country to combat police brutality and racial injustice.
Floyd, an African American man, died Monday after being restrained by police for alleged forgery. An officer put immense pressure on Floyd's neck with his knee as Floyd laid on the ground fighting for his life. A witness's video surfaced showing Floyd telling the officer he couldn't breathe.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The officer who knelt on Floyd's neck, Derek Chauvin, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.