NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly apologized to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri for comments he made about the altercation Ujiri had with a security guard after Toronto clinched the 2019 NBA championship, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange reported Thursday.
Ujiri was repeatedly shoved by California Deputy Sheriff Alan Strickland as he was trying to celebrate the team’s championship following their Game 6 win in Oakland. Strickland sued Ujiri for alleged wrongdoing leading to a two-year legal battle that ended earlier this month with Strickland reportedly dropping his suit.
In an interview with Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that aired on Oct. 24, 2019, Silver seemed to suggest Ujiri was in part responsible for the altercation.
“It’s part and parcel of what comes with someone who is living on the edge a bit and is hard-wired to sort of march forward with incredible energy,” Silver said in the interview. “Lessons learned for him—without assigning culpability or blame to anyone—as a leader, those are the kinds of situations he needs to learn to avoid.”
However, video released in August showed that Ujiri was not the aggressor in the incident.
“When I watch that last bit of the interview, in light of what we now know, I would love to take those words back,” Silver reportedly told Sportsnet. “[Masai] and I at this point have probably talked about that night 100 times since then. He has my full and unequivocal support.
“But I apologize to Masai for what I said in that interview … Believe me, when I look at that now, I cringe when I watch it.”
Ujiri has vowed to continue fighting for social change in the wake of the incident. He wants to stand up for the people who are not as lucky as he is and who are not vindicated after they are wrongfully accused of wrongdoing.
“I say it as humbly as I can: The privilege of the job I have is to fight for this,” Ujiri said during a Wednesday morning interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.
“They are wrongly accused, there is no body cams, nobody sees what happens, and they are incarcerated or they are accused or they are charged. We have to fight for them.”