Wednesday night, hump night and the New York Knicks are playing the Los Angeles Clippers in the Madison Square Garden. The Madison Square Garden is affectionately known as the Mecca to all basketball fans and nerds alike. NBA basketball in the city of New York is currently a wasteland but that’s not what this article is about. No, no, no, this is far more entertaining than the Knicks’ play. Charles Oakley shows up the New York Knicks. Given this day and age, it might be unfathomable to think readers are unaware of Charles Oakley and why the transpired events are so important.
Remembering the Oak Tree
A veteran of at least eighteen seasons, Charles Oakley was a power forward for the New York Knicks for ten seasons. While in New York, Oakley was a cult hero to the inner youth as well as the youngsters from the suburbs. Oakley’s fame came hand in hand with his on-court notoriety. He was a Knicks captain and chief enforcer. His intensity set the tone for the Knicks play. Oakley earned the nickname “Oak tree” because of his rugged demeanor and his no nonsense attitude. Under then head coach Pat Riley, Oakley flourished. Not coincidentally the Knicks were championship contenders during that period. Riley instilled a rule that Oakley was happy to carry out. Stop opponents by any means necessary.
Charles Oakley is a story of the underdog becoming successful. He made good. Oakley attended Division 2 Virginia Union University. Since Oakley, Virginia Union University had one other NBA player, Ben Wallace. He was subsequently drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Oakley in a draft night trade went to the Chicago Bulls where he was installed as the protector of a talented player named Michael Jordan. While protecting Jordan, Oakley was selected to the NBA All Rookie team. As his career continued he was selected to All Defensive teams in 1994 and 1998. He was also an All Star in 1994.
Oakley’s Temper was Always Evident
Charles Oakley’s temper is legendary. Former NBA player and teammate Antonio Davis recalled to ESPN’s The Lebatard Show that he witnessed Oakley slapped someone on three separate occasions. He recalled him slapping fellow player Tyrone Hill over a gambling debt. Jeff McInnis also came in for a touch. Most famously, Oakley slapped Charles Barkley at an NBA players’ union meeting. Oakley even warned Barkley afterwards, “Every time I see you, I’m going to slap you.” Barkley has denied this numerous times but many witnesses say otherwise.
Disrespectful Treatment of Former Players by the Knicks
Oakley had been critical of Dolan in the past. Especially relevant is Dolan’s treatment of several former Knick players. Players who played on the teams run by Dolan’s father Charles most of all appeared to have been marginalized by the Knicks under Dolan’s stewardship. Notable exceptions of this are Allan Houston (who is GM of the Westchester Knicks), Larry Johnson, John Starks and Herb Williams. Williams is currently an assistant coach with the WNBA team NY Liberty.
As coaching vacancies became available in recent years, Knicks legend Patrick Ewing was never considered for a role. He is lauded for his time with the Orlando Magic, and the Houston Rockets. Ewing is currently the lead assistant and Associate Head Coach of the Charlotte Hornets.
In a recent New Times article, Oakley said of the Knicks, “They making me look bad!” However a trained chef, Oakley lessened his stance. “I wouldn’t mind having a sit-down dinner with Dolan. I wouldn’t mind cooking him dinner.” For the Knicks reply, Barry Watkins who is the spokesman for MSG who oversees the Knicks had this to say. “The Knicks have fabulous relationships with almost all of our alumni. But when it comes to Charles’s relationship with the organization, he is his own worst enemy.”
Events of Wednesday Night
The Knicks played the Clippers. It was the one year anniversary of the Derek Fisher firing. Oakley sat three rows behind owner James Dolan. Oakley, who purchased tickets and was with friends when a most peculiar incident ensued.
— Davide Chinellato (@dchinellato) February 9, 2017
The New Knicks Feverishly Released a Statement
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) February 9, 2017
Rumors also accused Oakley of heckling owner Dolan. This incident continues to cast the New York Knicks in a bad light. The signs of dysfunction are self evident. Simply put, this is advertisement the Knicks can do without. It’s bad enough to have a reputation of mistreating pompous superstars. It’s another thing to appear disrespectful, even insensitive to legends.
Charles Oakley Spoke As Well
Charles Oakley gives his side of what happened at Madison Square Garden last night: https://t.co/jN4smEHMNM
— ESPN (@espn) February 9, 2017
Swears he never said a word UNTIL — he says — Security approached him, after he saw DOLAN look in his direction, and insisted he leave.
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) February 9, 2017
Oakley poorly conducted himself in regards to becoming physical with the security staff. That is not up for debate. What is up for debate are the minutes leading up to security approaching him. Why must a former player of the status of Charles Oakley have to pay to watch a Knicks game? However, there are so many other questions. As always the lastwordonprobasketball.com team will continue to follow this and bring updates as they become available.