Warriors

Witness claims Raptors exec Masai Ujiri didn't strike sheriff's deputy

ujiriusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Witness claims Raptors exec Masai Ujiri didn't strike sheriff's deputy

A Warriors season-ticket holder claimed to see Thursday night's encounter between Masai Ujiri and a sheriff's deputy at Oracle Arena, and said the Raptors president of basketball operations did not strike the deputy as the sheriff's office claimed.

Greg Wiener, 61, told The Associated Press on Friday that he stood next to the deputy during the waning moments of the Raptors' 114-110 win over the Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. Wiener told The AP that the deputy first "put his hand on Ujiri's chest and pushed him," and that "Ujiri shoved him back before bystanders intervened."

“The thing about the cops saying the policeman asked for his credentials, that didn’t happen," Wiener said. "There was no conversation at all. This part about striking him in the face, yeah that didn’t happen.”

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office told NBC Bay Area on Thursday that it was conducting an investigation along with the Oakland Police Department into an incident in which "a man believed to be a Toronto Raptors executive" pushed and struck a sheriff's deputy in the face on the Oracle Arena court. Sgt. Ray Kelly later identified the executive as Ujiri to NBC Sports Washington on Friday morning, telling the outlet that a deputy blocked Ujiri from reaching the court because he didn't display the proper credentials.

NBC Bay Area obtained video showing a man standing in between Ujiri and the deputies with his arms outstretched. Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry guided Ujiri through the crowd and on to the court to celebrate with the team.

Kelly said the deputies let Ujiri go once they realized who he was, but they are gathering evidence to submit to the district attorney. Deputies called the incident misdemeanor battery on an officer, according to NBC Bay Area. Ujiri has not yet been charged.

“The incident is being looked at, and we are cooperating with authorities," a Raptors spokesperson said to NBC Sports Washington on Friday. "We look forward to resolving the situation."

Ujiri, 48, has been the Raptors president since 2013. The Washington Wizards are preparing to offer Ujiri the top job in their front office, and NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported the offer could be worth $10 million annually and include an ownership stake in the team.

Lakers center JaVale McGee fakes injury, dunks on Warriors in preseason

javaledunkus.jpg
USATSI

Lakers center JaVale McGee fakes injury, dunks on Warriors in preseason

JaVale McGee pulled a sneaky one from his bag of tricks Wednesday night against his old team. 

In the third quarter of the Warriors' 126-93 preseason loss to the Lakers at Staples Center, McGee began limping and grabbing his left knee. Within about three our four seconds, his antics became clear: JaVale was faking an injury. 

The Lakers center went from crouched out of bounds to back in play in a flash to catch a pass from fellow big man Anthony Davis and throw down a dunk. McGee couldn't help but laugh at the expense of his former Golden State teammates. 

[RELATED: What Draymond was right -- and wrong -- about in Suns rant]

This kind of tomfoolery might seem illegal at first, but in reality, McGee looks like a genius who perfectly knows the rule book. Section XV of the NBA rule book states "An offensive player shall not leave the playing area of the court without returning immediately and cannot repeatedly leave and re-enter the court." There are exceptions, though, the first of which comes from an injury. 

While the Lakers have been dominating the Warriors in the preseason, McGee has been catching up on his reading. The Dubs, and the rest of the NBA, surely will have their eyes on JaVale the next time he looks to pull off a stunt like this.

Why Draymond Green's rant defending Marquese Chriss was mostly spot on

Why Draymond Green's rant defending Marquese Chriss was mostly spot on

Injuries have kept players off the court for months, even years, and buried the hopes of entire teams. They’ve derailed entire NBA seasons.

For the Warriors of this season, however, injuries may have brought them prosperity.

Without injuries to projected centers Willie Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney, they might not know what they have in Marquese Chriss, who was signed to a non-guaranteed contract but is playing his way onto the roster.

The Warriors are positioned to gain what the Suns -- who drafted Chriss in 2016 -- lost when they traded him out of Phoenix after two seasons. That certainly is the perspective of Draymond Green, and his impassioned defense of Chriss is mostly on point.

“He’s been in some pretty tough situations,” Green told reporters Wednesday night, after a 126-93 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these s---ty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault.

“He’s getting older now, so he’s not a kid anymore. But he came into this league as a kid. But it’s never the organization’s fault. It’s always that guy.”

“So I’m happy he’s got another opportunity to show what he can really do. Because he’s a prime example.”

Green wasn’t quite done. He also saved some ammo for media, indicating reporters are more likely to direct blame on a player than a franchise.

“Because you’re friends with them,” Green said. “You want all the access from them. So, the way you guys will come out and bash players, y’all don’t do that to organizations because it’s all about access and protecting your future. No one really protects these younger guys’ futures. Because it’s all about ‘what can I do for myself.’

“So, no one talks about the organizations. It’s always just the player, the player, the player. Because they can’t do s--t about it but be young. And their name carries no weight, and then (they’ll) be out of the league and onto the next thing.

“No Phoenix writer is going to bash the Phoenix Suns,” Green continued. “But let’s be frank about it. When he was there, the organization was terrible. Everything was going wrong. But he get blamed, like he’s the problem. When he left, ain’t nothing go right. That’s my take on it.”

OK. Again, some of Green’s claims are on target. There are instances of young players being blamed for their failure, while franchises skate.

The Warriors have been skating for a few years now, but it wasn’t always so. They’ve been kicked plenty over the many lean years they put up. Former owner Chris Cohan was such a punching bag that he retreated from media exposure. His right-hand man, former team president Robert Rowell, also took his absorption of bruises from local media.

That’s about where the Suns are now. Since real estate/banking tycoon Robert Sarver purchased the team 15 years ago, they have been in such a freefall that they’ve become a blight on the league.

The Knicks of the Western Conference.

And they have been taken to task -- nationally and locally -- for being a once-proud franchise run aground by cantankerous and penurious ownership.

Green is wrong about that.

Green likely is right about the Suns not knowing what they had in Chriss. Someone in the front office thought enough to draft him No. 8 overall in 2016. But the chaos upstairs -- largely generated by Sarver -- has resulted in a dizzying array of impulsive and regrettable decisions.

If not for the incompetence of Sarver and the Suns, Chriss probably would not be a Warrior, and he certainly wouldn’t have to accept a non-guaranteed contract, as he did 17 days ago.

And if not for injuries to Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney, the Warriors might not have much of a file on Chriss, either.

[RELATED: Looney to miss preseason; Dubs hope he'll play in opener]

For now, they stand to benefit from having Chriss on the roster. He’s not there yet, but he will be. Any day now.