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Masai Ujiri, President & General Manager, Basketball Operations

Source: Steve Russell / Getty

A year after getting assaulted by police while trying to celebrate with the team he helped build, Masai Ujiri is finally telling his side of the story.

Ujiri is the President of the Toronto Raptors, and when the Canadian team won the NBA Championship in 2019, he wanted to take to the floor and celebrate after dismantling the hobbling Golden State Warriors. For the past year, the cop’s account that Ujiri shoved him was taken as truth until the video showed the exact opposite. Video proved that when Ujiri attempted to show his credentials, the cop immediately pushed him back as shocked fans watched on. Now Ujiri is speaking about the racially charged issue.

“The video sadly demonstrates how horribly I was treated by a law enforcement officer last year in the midst of my team, the Toronto Raptors, winning its first world championship. It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA,” Ujiri writes.

Ujiri continued, revealing he has the same feelings that many other Black people feel about those in power who are supposed to help, despite always doing the opposite.

“Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I am Black.”

While his position and success didn’t help initially, he now knows that the only reason the narrative is truly changing for the incident is for that very same reason.

“What saddens me most about this ordeal is that the only reason why I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success. Because I’m the President of a NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice. So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that’s why Black Lives Matter.”