Charles Oakley and the New York Knicks have not been seeing eye to eye, and last night did not help.
Charles Oakley spent a fair amount of time rolling around on the floor at Madison Square Garden during his ten year tenure playing for the New York Knicks from 1988 to 1998 but due to unfortunate circumstances he found himself on the MSG floor once again.
Almost 20 years from his last game as a Knick, Oakley found himself at the Garden as a spectator. After buying tickets to the Knicks-Clippers game Wednesday, February 8th, Oakley, who was unintentionally seated near Garden President and Knicks’ owner James Dolan, who Oakley is not on good terms with after being critical of the Knicks’ organizational success or lack there of over the past 15 years.
Oakley told the New York Daily New’s Frank Isola in an interview after he was released from the police station just before midnight on February 8th that he purchased his own tickets to the game that happened to be two rows behind Dolan, when several Knicks officials noticed where Oakley was seated and prompted security guards to approach Oakley and question why he was in attendance.
“They were staring at me,” Oakley told Isola. “They asked me to leave and I said I’m not leaving.”
Unlike popular reports that suggest Oakley was yelling at Dolan from his seat, Oakley denies that claim, he was only angry as a paying customer being asked to leave a game he legally paid to see.
But not only did Dolan disrespectfully and unrightfully remove him from the Knicks game yesterday, he had him handcuffed and paraded out of the Garden. Dolan didn’t treat him like a hard working ball player who put his ten best years in the NBA with Knicks, but like a criminal.
The Knicks later released a classless statement reading “Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner. He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department. He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon.”
While Oakley’s behavior towards the MSG security guards was unwarranted, as they were just men doing their jobs, but to ask a paying customer to leave his seats out of a personal vendetta and then put to shame a beloved franchise player who bled orange and blue is disrespectful and out of line.
On top of that, the Knicks are celebrating their 70th anniversary this season and have spent much of the season honoring numerous famous Knicks but Oakley has been excluded from such events.
“He will tell you it doesn’t bother him but he’s not being truthful” Isola wrote.
Where do the Knicks go from here? They currently stand 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 22-32 record, which gives Knicks fans, including Oakley, much to complain about. Many blame Dolan among other front office executives such as Knicks’ President Phil Jackson and General Manager Steve Mills.
The Knicks have even struggled to keep All-Star Carmelo Anthony happy after numerous rumors that they are shopping the former scoring champion as the team looks to rebuild around young power forward Kristaps Porzingis.
Regardless of record or trade speculation, the organization is in dire need of some direction and positive culture, and after the actions of Dolan and the current regime since 1999, Knicks fans should not feel overly optimistic about the team’s future in the coming years.