Even before Wednesday night’s bust-up at Madison Square Garden, Charles Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan haven’t been what you would call friends. He says he’s tried to repair his relationship with his former boss multiple times but has been consistently rebuffed.
“He don’t want to meet with me,” Oakley told The Undefeated’s Mike Wise. “Man won’t even shake my hand.”
Oakley has been consistently critical of the Knicks and especially Dolan, but the words and rhetoric ratcheted up after the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans when Oakley went up to Dolan and he refused to shake his hand.
“Whenever I go to the Garden now, security has been told to inform him immediately,” Oakley said. “Last year against Charlotte I went to a game and a bunch of security people came up to me right away and told me not to walk around, stay where I am. He just doesn’t want me in the building.”
All of this provides an important backstory to the incident last night at Madison Square Garden, when Oakley was arrested and charged with three misdemeanor third-degree counts of assault, and one count of criminal trespass, also a third-degree misdemeanor, after the bust-up. According to the NYPD, Oakley punched three MSG employees who all refused medical attention at the scene. His court appearance is scheduled for March, according to ESPN.
Oakley appeared on Stephen A. Smith’s radio show to further explain his side of the story.
“Well first of all I want to say I’m sorry to all the fans of the Garden, all the fans,” Oakley said. “It was just a bad scene. I love New York, gave my whole heart. I walked into the Garden, simply I was there four minutes. I was talking to people. One of the guys said someone is watching you. They have to tell Dolan anytime I walk into the Garden. Then I’m told I have to leave. Orders you have to leave the building.”
He also confirmed he spoke with his close friend Michael Jordan right after the incident, and that mutual friends of the two also reached out to Jordan to help him calm Oakley down, as Oakley himself confirmed to Smith.
“It was just a conversation,” Oakley said. “A couple of my guys, really good friend of mine reached out. They wanted to see what was going on. I don’t know why it is so touchy when I come to the Garden.”
“I’ve been saying the same thing since ’88 when I came to New York,” he added. “I ain’t critical man, you are more critical. He gets mad at the headlines, I don’t write the headlines. What am I supposed to say, they are goin’ to win 60 (games)?”
The Knicks had been quiet since last night until just recently, when they released this statement.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) February 9, 2017
Tune in tomorrow for another installment of “As the Knicks Turn”.