Morning Coffee – Tue, Feb 11

45 mins read
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Raps win 15th game in a row | Raps surging in power rankings | Raps are amazing | Cunts in Alameda country suing Ujiri/MLSE for their racism

Raptors run win streak to 15 to upstage D’Angelo Russell’s Wolves debut

“[We] really tried to press up on him, make him drive it,” Nurse said. “We sat back, sat down too much, and he’s going to make those no matter where he is on those. We did try to trap him out of the timeouts a lot when we got the right matchups on him, and we turned him over twice out of timeouts for layups, which was huge.”

Towns, meanwhile, had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists against a Toronto team playing without its two traditional big men, Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Serge Ibaka (illness). That forced Nurse to turn to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a 6-foot-7, 217-pound forward, to try to stop the 7-foot, 248-pound Towns.

It worked well enough, with Hollis-Jefferson going for 21 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes while doing his best to slow Towns.

“It’s definitely different,” Hollis-Jefferson said of trying to match up with centers. “The battle [is to hold] your own ground, but they’ve got 5 inches on me [and] 30 or 40 pounds on me.

“It’s definitely about being mentally tough. … I love a challenge at the end of the day.”

In addition to Hollis-Jefferson and Siakam, the Raptors finished with their five starters — Hollis-Jefferson, Siakam, OG Anunoby (25 points and 12 rebounds), Kyle Lowry (27 points and 11 assists) and Fred VanVleet (16 points and seven assists) — combining to score 123 of the team’s 137 points on the night.

With the victory, Toronto moved to within three wins of the NBA’s longest winning streak this season — an 18-game stretch by the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks from Nov. 10 to Dec. 14. If Toronto can win its next three games to match that streak — Wednesday in Brooklyn, Feb. 21 against the Phoenix Suns and Feb. 23 against the Indiana Pacers — the Raptors will have a chance to eclipse Milwaukee’s streak by beating the Bucks at home on Feb. 25.

Long live the streak — the Raptors continue to win in the most mysterious ways | The Star

OG Anunoby reminded you that there is a brute masher slumbering beneath the surface, and Hollis-Jefferson scrapped like a badger, and Siakam and Lowry were simply all-stars. Oh, and VanVleet ended the third with a steal and an over-the-head blind pass to set up a dunk, and eyed up the seven-foot Towns before splashing a 27-foot fourth-quarter three. The starters scored 123 points, and Toronto outscored the Wolves by 22 in the paint. You almost had to laugh. Last week, VanVleet was talking about this season and why it’s been so prideful, so good.

“I think that the same answer for why it is, this is the same reason why we won a championship,” says VanVleet. “If we aren’t the guys who went through it, and are as good as we are, then we don’t win a championship last year. As great as Kawhi was, as unbelievable a playoff performance as we’ve seen, what took it over the hump was the other guys. Greats are going to be great. They’re going to get you 30, 35. And you need them to be unbelievable in the clutch.

“But if you don’t get a 12-point fourth quarter here, or a couple of threes, or a couple of big plays, or Kyle Lowry starting the game off (like he did in Game 6 of the Finals) — if you don’t have those in the middle, then you lose the game. It’s just that simple. And obviously the playoffs, you know, whatever. We’ll see what happens when we get there.

“But for the regular season, that’s a no-brainer for us. We know that we can do that.”

It was mentioned that the Raptors know how to work a game — how to figure it out. VanVleet nodded.

Raptors’ tenacity provides blueprint for identity-deprived Timberwolves –

Minnesota is the franchise that employed Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett for 11 years and advanced past the first round of the playoffs once. It also had two first-overall picks in the starting lineup for the past four years and had one winning season in that span.

The Raptors? They won a title without a lottery pick on their roster, an NBA first.

No wonder Minnesota swung the biggest at the NBA trade deadline last week, remaking their roster with seven new players – four of which were in the starting lineup against the Raptors Monday night – after two deals headlined by moving one-time cornerstone Andrew Wiggins to the Golden State Warriors for D’Angelo Russell, who made his Timberwolves debut against Toronto.

No wonder why there are many NBA watchers that believe getting out of Minnesota could be the best thing that has ever happened to the kid from Thornhill, Ont.

It’s telling that the Timberwolves were so eager to end the six-year Wiggins era that they attached a lightly protected first-round draft pick from what is supposed to be a deep 2021 draft. They exchanged him for Russell, who has a reputation for a lot of empty calories of basketball himself.

These are problems the Raptors can’t relate to – unless we’re going back a decade or two. The Raptors are in their seventh year of making water into wine, or undrafted free agents into borderline all-stars.

As the Raptors were trying to extend their winning streak to 15 games — the longest winning streak by any Canadian-based franchise in any sport — the T-Wolves were one game removed from a 15-game losing streak with decades of under-achieving lottery picks to look back on.

The Raptors’ harder-than-it-looked 137-126 win was a nice parting gift to fans at Scotiabank Arena who won’t see their team at home for nearly two weeks.

Fifteen and counting: The Raptors have forgotten how to lose – The Athletic

After the Raptors had finished dispatching of the Timberwolves 137-126, Hollis-Jefferson, who did get the start, wanted to clarify a few things.

“Make sure y’all quote me that I’m 6-5 without shoes,” he said before his scrum.

A few moments later: “With shoes, I’m 6-6 — solid, sturdy.”

Whatever the measurements, he is certainly notably smaller than Minnesota’s franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns, listed at 7-feet and 248 pounds. As his locker room neighbour, Pascal Siakam, was holding court, Hollis-Jefferson threw in another one-liner: “Shout out to P.J.”

That would be P.J. Tucker, the former Raptor who is now the Rockets’ de facto centre, himself listed at 6-5. With Gasol and Ibaka, the Raptors have two more traditionally sized centres with the requisite skill and intelligence that mean they do not necessarily have to match up with smaller, faster teams. But if they have to win games in that form, then so be it.

After win No. 15 on the trot, it appears the Raptors have simply forgotten how to lose.

“You can reach for the panic button if you want to,” Nurse said of finding out he would be playing without both of his centres, not finishing the sentence because he felt he did not need to. The Raptors have found workarounds with many combinations of players missing, so why should this one, while a bit more extreme, bother them too much?

“I feel like we’re not only doing something cool not only for ourselves but for Canada, for Toronto, the fans,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “It’s something big that hasn’t been done, I think they said, across sports.”

Hollis-Jefferson is referring to this being the longest winning streak by any Canadian-based team in NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS or CFL history. Regardless of the relatively weak competition, which Fred VanVleet pointed out, or the ultimate goal of playoff success, which last year emphasized, this blast of joy in what would otherwise be the dog days of the regular season should not only be appreciated but also savoured.

Recap: Toronto Raptors pull away in the second half, beat T-Wolves 137-126 for 15th straight win – Raptors HQ

For the game, Anunuby had 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, to go with 12 rebounds, three assists, and three steals. When Toronto needed defense, they could count on OG to get a hand in there and force the issue against both of Minnesota’s best players. His sudden explosion of shooting — Anunoby went 3-of-4 from three too — also meant the Raptors’ offensive attack could find some balance. Lowry’s first half output slowed, VanVleet was content to lean back, and Siakam just picked his spots while Anunoby and his frontcourt partner Rondae frenzied the game in Toronto’s favour. It should have been lights out for Minnesota, but their shooting did enough to keep them in it — even as Russell gradually faded down the stretch, and Towns never quite got comfortable when it mattered.

Despite the closeness of the score heading into the fourth, the Raptors looked to have regained their confidence. In the final frame, Siakam lit up the Timberwolves — who kept switching the 1-5 pick-and-roll action and stranding Russell — for 14 points, Lowry raced out to another seven, and Fred and McCaw hit a pair of threes to ice the game for good. Minnesota gave some fight in those first six minutes, getting the lead down to a mere two points with the help of two 3s from James Johnson (before OG stuffed him on the next attempt). But Toronto never looked particularly concerned. By the end, Siakam was draining an uncontested three to get his team-leading 34 points, to go with six rebounds and five assists; Lowry finished with 27 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds; and the surprise undersized centre, Hollis-Jefferson, mucked his way to 21 points and six rebounds, while clearly driving Towns insane.

The Raptors now have one game left before a much-needed break. They play the Nets on Wednesday — a winnable game — and then send Lowry, Siakam, Nick Nurse and the coaching staff to All-Star Weekend for what amounts to something of a coronation. They could be riding a 16-gamer or more before we get into March. This season in Toronto still feels unlikely to end with a title, but an accomplishment like that, the focus it takes to win that many games in a row, is indeed one for the history books. And sure, it comes as something of a surprise too.

Raptors 137, Wolves 126: Defense Doom Wolves in Toronto – Canis Hoopus

It was in large part the Raptors’ transition game that ultimately doomed the Wolves. They never stopped pushing the pace, and the Wolves transition defense just broke down too many times, leading to more than 20 fast-break points for the home team. Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson all benefited from multiple open floor opportunities, and that starting front court combined to shoot an ungodly 32-47 from the field and scored 80 points.

The entire Raptors team was on fire from the start tonight. They made their first eight shots, and finished the first half shooting 66 percent from the field. They finished the night at a robust 57 percent, including 17-33 from three point range. The Wolves simply could not get enough stops to give themselves a real chance to win in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Raptors turned up the defensive intensity significantly after the Wolves hung 75 on them in the first half. They held the Wolves to 19 in the third quarter, and took advantage of Wolves turnovers and some unfortunate missed rebounds to take an 11 poit lead into the fourth. The Wolves got back into it briefly before a barrage from the Raps put things away.

Still, it was another good offensive performance by the Wolves, who made 18 of 40 threes and 30 of 35 free throws. Once again there were a bunch of different offensive contributos for the Wolves, who had five players in double figures and nine with at least eight points in the game tonight.

With as much fire power as they now have, Karl-Anthony Towns seemed a bit lost tonight. He finished with 23 points, but shot only 5-13, and only 2-7 inside the arc. The Raptors defense keyed on him. and he responded once again with some terrific passes (he finished with seven assists), but also had five turnovers and struggled to find space. Given his amazing efficiency, it’s vital that the Wolves don’t forget where their bread is buttered, but it was not a great game for Towns.

Russell makes his debut, but Timberwolves still fall to Raptors –

The Wolves had 75 points in the first half, 51 in the second as Toronto doubled Towns and blitzed Russell in the fourth, daring the Wolves’ other weapons to beat them. In the meantime, the Wolves set their season high in turnovers. It’s not hard to see that number likely will improve as this team adjusts to playing with each other.

“It’s a whole new group,” Russell said. “So the chemistry is going to develop within time. Time is on our side right now. We’re not in a playoff race or anything like that. We’re just worried about us. The more games, more practice, the more film sessions we can get under our belt, the better we’ll be.”

Towns and Russell were two of the last Wolves out of the locker room following Russell’s session with the media. There have been times this season when the locker room has been as quiet as a church, especially during losing streaks of 11 and 13 games.

That wasn’t the case Monday.

There was plenty of chatter, teammates still getting to know one another, coach Ryan Saunders sitting down with a few players and doling out advice, something he normally doesn’t do after games.

It’s going to take time for the newness to wear off. While it does, the Timberwolves are trying to have fun with few expectations.

“I’m extremely encouraged with what happened tonight,” Saunders said.

Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ road loss to Raptors – Dunking With Wolves

Clearly, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse implored his team to ratchet up the defensive intensity in the second half, as his squad appeared fully consumed by creating as many deflections and grabbing as many offensive rebounds as possible. For as hard as the Wolves played, the Raptors were absolutely the aggressors in the second half, adopting a strategy that looked something like, “well, they can’t call everything a foul”.

The swarming defense didn’t hinder the Raptors’ ability to play knock-down, ultra-efficient offense, either, as they finished the game an incredible 17-of-33 (51.5 percent) from beyond the arc. The Wolves were good from there, too: 18-of-40 (45 percent) is a mark that Ryan Saunders and the coaching staff will gladly take night-in and night-out.

But the Raptors’ offensive efficiency, combined with nine offensive rebounds — all of which sure seemed to be especially timely — and a defense that nabbed 15 steals, was enough to surge ahead on the back of an 11-0 run in the midst of the third quarter.

Other than a quick push early in the final frame that pulled the Wolves as close as two points, Toronto mostly controlled proceedings in the second half.

The biggest issue was the turnovers. While the Raptors committed 18 turnovers of their own, Minnesota only ended up with six steals. Many of the Toronto miscues were passes out of bounds, offensive fouls, and plays that resulted in a dead ball. Of the Wolves’ 23 turnovers, 15 of them were live-ball steals by the Raptors, which obviously have a much greater chance of ending in easy transition buckets on the other end.

The Wolves defense wasn’t awful, the Raptors were simply that good. And the Wolves played hard throughout, again showing an ultra-dynamic offense and much improved 3-point shooting.

Streaking Raptors continue to find a way to win –

The Wolves came in with a record of 16-35 and had recently overhauled half their roster at the trade deadline, but they would feature talented seven-footer Karl-Anthony Towns – a big and physical all-star calibre centre. The Raptors wouldn’t have a healthy five-man to match his size and strength.

Instead they went with Hollis-Jefferson – a versatile forward generously listed at 6-foot-6, though he joked he’s closer to 6-foot-4 without shoes on. Nurse considered going even smaller in the starting lineup and shifting OG Anunoby to power forward and Pascal Siakam to centre. However, he trusted that Hollis-Jefferson was both physically and mentally strong enough to hold his own in the matchup, and his effort might help make up for the size disparity.

Toronto’s lack of size was apparent early on. The Raptors were red-hot offensively, shooting 64 per cent through 24 minutes, but without a big and intimidating presence in the paint, they were bleeding points around the rim.

However, as they’ve done for most of the campaign, they found a way to get it done. Anunoby scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 12 boards, which matched a personal-best. Siakam turned in his best two-way performance since coming back from a groin injury last month, scoring 34 points and hitting six three-pointers. Kyle Lowry was typically excellent, recording 27 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists.

As they started to pull away in the third quarter, and then again when they put the game away in the fourth, they were playing bigger than their size. They out-rebounded Minnesota, 41-38, on the night.

Despite giving up more than half a foot and over 30 pounds in the matchup, Hollis-Jefferson did an admirable job as the primary defender on Towns. He had some assistance from his teammates – particularly Siakam, whose help defence was great in the second half – but Nurse credited the 25-year-old forward with getting underneath Towns, pushing him out of the paint and fighting him on the catch.

Raptors make it 15 in a row, beat Timberwolves in high-scoring affair | Toronto Sun

In fact, few of the Timberwolves disappointed in any way until the Raptors did what they’ve done so many times this past month and turned a game that was headed the other way decidedly in their favour.

The last team to finish the job against the Raptors were the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 12, nearly a month ago now.

The Indiana Pacers came close twice. The Brooklyn Nets were right there too on the weekend. Now the Timberwolves took their turn but none had enough to knock the Raptors from this perch they’ve been on for now 15 games in a row.

Making this one all the more impressive was the absence of Serge Ibaka, who had replaced the injured Marc Gasol at centre so effectively these past couple of weeks.

Ibaka was out with the flu, and that left the Raptors rather thin in the big man department.

It fell to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the hustle king, if not the under-sized hustle king, to fill the void and he did just that.

Hollis-Jefferson battled Timberwolves seven-footer Karl-Anthony Towns to a near standoff with some help from OG Anunoby. Hollis- Jefferson went off for a season-high 21 points and six rebounds to KAT’s 23 and 10 rebounds, this despite giving up almost half a foot to the Minny big man.

“First of all, he’s going to play hard and he’s strong, he can kind of get underneath him and lean on him there a little bit at least, try to fight the catch,” head coach Nick Nurse said of his decision to go with the listed 6-foot-7 tweener (who is actually just 6-foot-4 and a half in sock feet.)

“That’s kind of the important part about post defence,” Nurse said. “A lot is how far can you push him out to make him make that initial catch … but we didn’t have a whole lot of other options. We did talk about starting OG and Pascal at the four-five and maybe starting Terence. But in the end we decided to go at ‘em with Rondae.”

As has been the case most of this year, this too was the right call.

Unstoppable — OG Anunoby has a night to remember and the Raptors’ record win streak hits 15 | The Star

It was the kind of night the Raptors needed from OG Anunoby — an athletic and quick and decisive and, at times, dominant evening at both ends of the floor to compensate for an undersized roster.

And if he doesn’t have another one like it for a week or two, no big deal. He gave it to them when they needed it.

Anunoby had a career-high 25 points, a career-high 12 rebounds, almost a career high with three assists and spent time checking everyone from guards to centres as the Raptors ran their franchise-record winning streak to 15 games by pulling away for a 137-126 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Anunoby wasn’t the sole reason the Raptors won — Pascal Siakam poured in 34 points, Kyle Lowry had 27 and 11 assists — but his addition to the usual Raptors offence more than made up for the absence of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.

“He was good defensively,” coach Nick Nurse said of Anunoby. “We put him all over the place. We put him on (centre Karl-Anthony) Towns a lot and he was doing a good job. He switched out on to (D’Angelo) Russell because of that. He was just making some really good reads.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who got the start for Ibaka, had a season-high 21 points, Fred VanVleet added 16 and the Raptors won easily despite getting next to no production from a very good bench. The starters had all but 14 of Toronto’s points, and four of them had more than 20.

NBA Power Rankings Week 17- Raptors and Celtics extend win streaks, Pacers fall – ESPN

3. Toronto Raptors
Record: 39-14
Week 16 ranking: 3

The Raptors pulled out two one-point victories last week over the Pacers and Nets to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games. They continue to win despite consistent injuries to key players, the latest of which sidelined Kyle Lowry with whiplash. The All-Star break will help them rest up and get healthy to make a late-season push for the top playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference. — Snellings

The Athletic’s NBA Power Rankings Week 16: Post trade deadline assessment – The Athletic

3. Toronto Raptors (Previously 3rd), 39-14 (+6.5 net rating)

The Raptors forgot how to lose basketball games. I want to hop in the DeLorean and head all the way back to Jan. 12, when the San Antonio Spurs beat them in Toronto. Pascal Siakam missed a desperation 3-pointer from 34 feet as time expired as the Spurs took them down by one point that night. Toronto fell to 25-14 on the season, which was still a highly respectable record. At the time, we were marveling at the resiliency of the Raptors. They lost who they lost and they were still highly competitive in the thick of the Eastern Conference. The Raptors sat fourth in the East by a half-game over the Philadelphia 76ers and had a +5.1 net rating (sixth in the NBA). Everything was going better than most expected.

Since then, they’ve rattled off 14 straight victories. Their previous franchise record had been done twice with 11 straight wins. They’re scoring an absurd 118.3 points per 100 possessions. That would be good for the greatest offensive rating in NBA history extrapolated over the course of a full season. In fact, the Dallas Mavericks currently have the best offense in NBA history and this is 2.2 points per 100 possessions better than what Dallas has done. Toronto has a net rating of +10.5 per 100 possessions during this streak, which is better than double what it was previously doing. The scary thing about the Raptors during this stretch? Siakam has been fine. He hasn’t been great by any means. He could do a lot more. And this team is shredding the league right now. It’s firmly in the 2-seed by a couple of games and looking like a team capable of getting back to the Finals.

Power Rankings |

This week: 3
Last week:5
Toronto Raptors
Record: 39-14
Pace: 100.5 (15) OffRtg: 111.5 (11) DefRtg: 104.9 (2) NetRtg: +6.5 (4)

The Raptors continue to be shorthanded (Kyle Lowry missed a game on Saturday when he got lost in Serge Ibaka’s scarf), and their second-ranked defense has slipped a little without Marc Gasol. They had two of their three worst defensive performances of the season last week, allowing the Pacers and Nets to score more than 120 points per 100 possessions at Scotiabank Arena.

But the winning streak, now at 14 games, remains alive. The champs forced three straight Indiana turnovers over an 11-0 run to close that win on Wednesday and they got the one stop they needed after losing an 18-point lead to Brooklyn on Saturday. Eight of their 14 wins on the streak have been within five points in the last five minutes, and both the Raptors (20-for-39) and their opponents (18-for-33) have shot better than 50% in the clutch over these four weeks.

The Raps are just one bucket from shooting 50% overall (they’re 621-for-1,244) over the course of the winning streak. They’ve seen a bigger improvement from their first 39 games in the paint, where the scarf artist has shot 68% over the 14 games. He’s one of six players (a pair of former Raptors are also in the group) who have shot 70% or better on at least 100 shots in the restricted area and 45% or better on at least 100 shots elsewhere in the paint.

NBA Power Rankings: Trade deadline shakes things up for Heat, Clippers, Rockets; Raptors, Celtics keep rolling –

2 TorontoRaptors

What else can you say about these Raptors? They’ve won 14 straight games and are now just two games back of the Lakers in the loss column for the second-best record in the NBA. Two of this week’s wins were particularly exciting, as they pulled out one-point victories over the Pacers and Nets. If you’re not watching the Raptors right now, you’re making a big mistake.

By the Numbers: Undrafted rookie Terence Davis a rising star for red-hot Raptors –

Davis, who wasn’t named to the Rising Stars game at NBA All-Star Weekend, could find himself in the starting five again Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, depending on Lowry’s status, as the Raptors look for their 15th straight win.

The Raptors sit second in the Eastern Conference this season despite dealing with several injuries, including stints without Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, Lowry and Norman Powell.

“At this point, I think we’re experienced enough in that realm unfortunately,” VanVleet said Saturday. “We’ve had a ton of guys out this year, so we don’t really think about it, it’s just more opportunity for a guy like Terence to get some starting minutes… so it’s more opportunity and guys gotta step up and try to make the most out of the situation and find a way to get a win.”

The 22-year-old Davis spent four seasons at Ole Miss before joining the Raptors, but never averaged more than 15.2 points per game in a season.

Raptors analyst Jack Armstrong told TSN Radio 1050 Toronto on Monday that he believes Davis would be selected in the first round if teams could re-draft the 2019 class.

Toronto Raptors: 3 reasons Raptors have been as good as last season – Hoops Habit

3. It starts at the top – the Toronto Raptors have an elite leadership team
In the NBA, teams can only sustain long-term success if they have a strong organizational structure. That, and an insatiable desire to repeat success. Masai Ujiri has proven to be an elite front office executive. He might just be the best in the league.

Ujiri proved it by doing what many wouldn’t have done – firing freshly-minted Coach of the Year Dwane Casey and replacing him with Nick Nurse. He showed it again by shipping out fan-favorite DeMar DeRozan for Leonard. He’s discovered treasures in the draft (Siakam, OG Anunoby) and outside of it (VanVleet, Davis). When Ujiri realized the team’s championship window was wide open, he snagged Marc Gasol at the trade deadline in 2019.

Ujiri is fearless and has built a strong organization that could be successful in Toronto for quite a while.

When Ujiri replaced Casey with Nurse, many (myself included) were skeptical. So,  what has Nurse accomplished in his short tenure? Besides bring Canada a championship in his first season, he’s developed into an elite NBA head coach. The Raptors didn’t win last season solely because of Kawhi Leonard, they won in part because Nick Nurse is one of the best coaches in the association. All he does is win. After winning 58 games in 2018-19, he’s at it again this season. In fact, he’s won 97 of his first 135 games as head coach, good for nearly a 72 percent winning percentage.

The Toronto Raptors are now an elite NBA franchise, proving that last season was no fluke. With this leadership structure in place, this may just be the start of something bigger.

Why is Raptors president Masai Ujiri travelling with Trudeau in Africa? – The Loop

In fact, Ujiri’s clout and star power could be crucial for Trudeau as he attempts to garner support for landing Canada a seat on the powerful United Nations Security Council. The pair, along with three other ministers, are attending a weekend session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The support and votes of the 54 African leaders will be critical when the UN decides on the fate of Canada’s bid in June. Before becoming a player scout and NBA executive, Ujiri was raised in Nigeria. Outside of the NBA, he’s lent his support for different business initiatives and charities at home and abroad. Ujiri had initially planned on travelling to the continent to promote his foundation, Giants of Africa, which uses basketball as a way to educate and connect with African youth. But he switched up his plans after Trudeau asked him to join his delegation to Africa. But he praised Ujiri’s work in the region at a press conference on Sunday. “Masai is doing incredible work in Africa to empower youth to a sport,” he said, adding that the foundation was “helping countless young people, including many young women, to reach their full potential.” When asked if he would consider becoming a Canadian citizen, Ujiri simply said: “I do view myself as a Canadian citizen,” as well as a “son of Africa.”

Masai Ujiri sued by Oakland officer over alleged assault after Raptors’ NBA championship | The Star

The suit, which seeks medical expenses, lost wages and other damages, also accuses the defendants of failing to “provide adequate safety and security to the public” and “failing to post signs warning of danger, including the danger of Masai Ujiri.”

In October, a spokesperson for the Alameda District Attorney said no charges would be filed against Ujiri stemming from the incident, although Ujiri did attend a meeting with the district attorney “focused on matters that we believe merited constructive, structured mediation and conflict resolution and were better handled in a setting outside of the courtroom,” a spokesperson for the Alameda District Attorney told the San Jose Mercury News.

“After a through investigation, we are just so happy with the result,” Annie Beles, an attorney for Ujiri, told the newspaper.

Oakland cop suing Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, MLSE over alleged NBA Finals incident –

In a lawsuit filed on Friday in Sacramento at a California United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Alan Strickland filed a complaint on six counts and has asked for a jury trial.

At the June 13 game in which the Raptors claimed their first ever NBA title, Strickland alleges that Ujiri hit him in the face and chest with both fists as Ujiri attempted to get onto the court to celebrate with his team despite not being properly credentialed.

The suit claims that Ujiri’s actions were “foreseeable” due to his “previous altercations involving similar circumstances” and MLSE and the Raptors are also named for failing to adequately warn Strickland of Ujiri’s “violent predisposition” and “propensity for physical violence prior to his [the assault on Strickland].”

A spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk that Strickland – whom the department has never identified by name since last summer – is currently on medical leave.

Among the damages sought by Strickland are for medical expenses and lost wages.

No criminal charges were filed against Ujiri.

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

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