It went on too long and it definitely doesn’t feel right to still be talking about it, but here we are. The saga of Masai Ujiri and the Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland — who blocked Ujiri from joining the on-court celebration after the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship — is coming to an end today. The deputy has dropped his federal suit against the Toronto Raptors president, effective this afternoon.
NEW: Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Alan Strickland has dropped his lawsuit against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. He has also since returned to work. He has been assigned to administrative duties. https://t.co/Zi5BM29zjv— Lisa Fernandez (@ljfernandez) February 10, 2021
According to KTVU FOX 2’s Lisa Fernandez, “neither side will gain any money as part of the mutual agreement, and each side will pay their own attorney fees.”
The decision effectively ends a timeline that was far too drawn out, as Strickland filed a lawsuit in February of this year, which was met by a countersuit by Ujiri.
KTVU Fox 2 is also reporting that Strickland has returned to work and has been assigned to administrative duties.
In response to the news, MLSE released the following statement regarding it as “vindication” for Masai.
Statement from MLSE on the lawsuit against Masai Ujiri (finally) being dropped: "Masai has been completely vindicated, as we always knew he would be... We continue to be deeply troubled by the fact that Masai was put in this position in the first place..." pic.twitter.com/Szv6KLsnJg— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) February 10, 2021
And vindication, it is. The video shown above was all the proof needed that Ujiri didn’t initiate any contact with Strickland — contrary, he was just another victim of an on-the-spot assessment by a police officer in a high stress situation.
We’ve said it many times before: this moment should’ve been the high point of Masai’s career. A lauded career as Denver’s executive led into his time with the Raptors, where he’s done nothing short of lift the team out of the doldrums — from the beginning of the Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan era until now. Winning a championship should’ve been nothing but positive for Masai; instead, it turned into an 18-month ordeal of arrests, lawsuits, and countersuits.
“This was very hard for me.”— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 17, 2020
Raptors president Masai Ujiri spoke about how he felt after the body cam video was released showing the incident with security at Oracle Arena during last year’s NBA Finals: pic.twitter.com/xqQAauzBMs
At the least, today’s news is an opportunity to move on from the story to more pressing news — the hanging question of whether Ujiri will pen a new contract to continue as the Raptors president of basketball operations. The buzz is this decision could be coming soon, and regardless of the verdict, it’ll be nice to write some Masai headlines that are strictly about basketball — and not about unfair treatment.