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Hoops notes: Masai accuser had previous fraud charge

Raptors president Masai Ujiri (centre) celebrates getting his NBA championship ring before a game at Scotiabank Arena this season, which is on hiatus due to the coronavirus. (John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports)
Raptors president Masai Ujiri (centre) celebrates getting his NBA championship ring before a game at Scotiabank Arena this season, which is on hiatus due to the coronavirus. (John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports)

The California deputy vs. Raptors president Masai Ujiri case took a not-so-surprising-turn on Sunday, based on how ridiculous the whole thing has been from the start.

KTVU, a Fox affiliate in San Francisco, reported that Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland was charged with felony insurance fraud and making false statements in 1994. Strickland ended up pleading no contest to misdemeanor insurance fraud in 2005, KTVU found based on court records. The false-statement charge was dropped in exchange for the no-contest plea, “which has the same legal effect as pleading guilty.”

The report said the fraud charge was discovered when Strickland unsuccessfully applied to be a San Mateo police officer in 2005.

Strickland filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento last month against Ujiri owing to a brief altercation between the two men when Strickland attempted to stop Ujiri from getting to the Raptors for not having the proper credentials after they won the NBA title in Oracle Arena in Oakland last June.

Some security members were unreasonably aggressive at the arena during that whole series, this corner and other working media can attest. Some Raptors TV broadcasters were even told they could not go directly to their filming spots on at least one occasion, instead being threatened and told to take a different, longer route.

Ujiri has said the moment marred the celebration somewhat.

Strickland claimed he suffered physical injuries and that Ujiri had “a violent predisposition” and acted with an “evil motive amounting to malice.”

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment countered: “We are disappointed but not at all surprised Mr. Strickland has elected to take this path. His claims are baseless and entirely without merit. They should and will be viewed appropriately for what they are. The Toronto Raptors and Masai have jointly retained very able counsel who will be handling this matter on our behalf and consequently, we do not intend to make any further statement about it.”

The possibility of criminal prosecution was dismissed (the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said last month the situation would be “better handled in a setting outside the courtroom,” but Strickland later filed a suit, as well as a workers’ compensation claim and has not been back to work.

Ujiri told the Globe and Mail the suit was “malicious” and that the “truth will come out.”

A lawyer contacted by KTVU said Strickland’s past could hurt him in a suit. “He’s proven to be a liar, so why should he be believed here when it was a really just a silly shoving match?” Michael Cardoza told KTVU. “If I had that information, I’d argue to get it in.”

The report also said that Strickland has twice previously filed worker’s compensation claims.


Detroit big man Christian Wood, the third NBA player to test positive for coronavirus, played against Utah two nights before the Raptors did. Two Jazz players (all-stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell) previously tested positive. It’s amazing that no Raptors did. Wood has been in self-isolation since Wednesday. The 24-year-old had a career-game against Utah, scoring 30 points, along with 11 rebounds.


March Madness has been scrapped and so have the event’s famous brackets.

The NCAA said that while some schools and athletic departments had hoped that the process of selecting the men’s and women’s brackets would take place anyway — validating and rewarding strong seasons — it’s just an untenable process, considering the times.

“When NCAA winter and spring championships were cancelled Thursday afternoon, the women’s basketball committee had yet to even commence their selection meeting, and the men’s basketball committee had only just begun their selection process,” Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball said.

“There were 19 men’s and 18 women’s conference tournaments that had yet to be completed when the NCAA championships were cancelled. A total of 132 men’s games and 81 women’s games were never played, resulting in those automatic qualifiers not being determined on the court.

“The important work of the basketball committees is to set up competitively-balanced brackets to determine national champions. I don’t believe it’s responsible or fair to do that with incomplete seasons — especially for tournaments that unfortunately won’t be played,” Gavitt said. “I have heard from many coaches and athletics directors who are trusted colleagues and friends that would like to see brackets released to recognize the successful seasons of their teams and student-athletes and to see who and where they would have played. Players and coaches want to see their school name on the bracket. Members of the media want to dissect matchups. Bracketologists want to compare the work of the committees versus what they’ve predicted. Fans are curious for those same reasons. All of us want something to fill the void we’re feeling.

“However, anything less than a credible process is inconsistent with the tradition of the NCAA basketball championships.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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