Silver apologizes to Raptors' Ujiri for comments on deputy incident
Mark Blinch / National Basketball Association / Getty

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has apologized to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri for his remarks regarding the executive's incident with an Alameda County sheriff's deputy in June 2019.

"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 told Sportsnet's Michael Grange. "(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."

Silver is referring to comments he made during an October 2019 episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" regarding the altercation between Ujiri and Alan Strickland following the Raptors' championship win.

Strickland shoved the team president twice in an attempt to prevent him from joining the team during its title-clinching celebrations. The sheriff's deputy alleged Ujiri didn't provide him with the credentials to be on the court, though body cam footage later revealed Ujiri displaying his identification.

"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 episode. "And I think lessons learned for him, without assigning culpability or blame to anyone.

"As a leader, those are the kinds of situations he needs to learn how to avoid."

Strickland later filed a lawsuit against Ujiri, which included the Raptors and the NBA as defendants, alleging Ujiri "hit him in the face and chest with both fists" and that he suffered permanent injuries. Strickland dropped the suit earlier this month as part of a mutual agreement with Ujiri, who also ceased his own countersuit.

Ujiri spoke on the matter Wednesday during an appearance on "Good Morning America." He vowed to continue fighting for racial equality and said he wants to prevent others from being wrongly accused in incidents with law enforcement.

Silver admits the onus is on him to prevent similar occurrences from happening again.

"It's my responsibility, at least in terms of these kinds of incidents, that I put in place practices so something like what happened to Masai doesn't happen to other Black executives in our arena or any NBA event," Silver told Grange.

"We should have had our own security person standing there who knows who to let center court for the ceremony. ... It's on me, not (Ujiri), that similar situations like that don't happen in the future."

Silver apologizes to Raptors' Ujiri for comments on deputy incident
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