NBA commissioner Adam Silver has apologized to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri for comments he made about the incident Ujiri was involved in at the end of the 2019 NBA Finals. Speaking to SportsNet in Canada, Silver said Ujiri has his “full and unequivocal support.”
“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 said. “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.”
At the end of the 2019 Finals, Ujiri was trying to make his way onto the court to celebrate his team winning its first championship after defeating the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland. He was stopped by an Alemeda County sheriff’s deputy, and shoved twice as he tried to present his credential. Ujiri responded by shoving the deputy, and finally got pulled away by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry.
The Alameda sheriff’s office said they would investigate Ujiri for assault, but he was never charged. The deputy involved did sue Ujiri, however, and the Raptors executive countersued. Eventually, body cam footage was released which vindicated Ujiri, and earlier this month the deputy finally dropped his suit. Ujiri did the same, bringing the nearly two-year saga to an end.
Back in 2019, prior to that body cam footage being released, Silver appeared on an episode of HBO’s Real Sports and criticized Ujiri for getting himself into that situation:
“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. 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.”
While they largely went under the radar at the time, Silver’s comments resurfaced recently and necessitated the apology — though not from Ujiri himself. In a statement to SportsNet, Ujiri said he still has a strong relationship with Silver and wants to move forward.
“This hasn’t been an issue between us in the past and it isn’t now,” Ujiri said. “We have talked about it; I know I have Adam’s support and he has mine. Let’s move forward from this and focus on what we can do to make positive change. And I know the fans have been supporting me through all this – I really appreciate their concern. It’s been unbelievable.”
Courtesy: CBS Sports