#360USA: More trouble for the Knicks following Oakley's ban

Steve Brenner 09:39 14/02/2017
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New York Knicks legend Charles Oakley.

It’s official – the New York Knicks have hit rock-bottom. The sight of another hapless team drift towards the end of the season with no hope of reaching the play-off’s is greeted with a shrug of the shoulders.

Hopelessness on the court is nothing new. Unfortunately, neither is chronic mismanagement. Yet the astonishing events of Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden and the equally amazing aftermath proves this storied franchise, one of the most marketable and famous brands on earth, is rotten to the core.

Charles Oakley is a Knicks legend. The no-nonsense power forward was part of the 90’s team which had Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing as their main man. Ewing was the star. Oakley was the enforcer, showing the kind of battle, grit and ferocity New Yorkers love.

Never backwards in coming forwards, the ‘Oak’ became a fan favourite. The 53-year-old left the Knicks in 1998 after 10 years solid service yet still holds them close to his heart.

Oakley cares and so, after watching so much dross served up in recent years, has become one of their fiercest critics.

Despite what Donald Trump thinks, it’s still a free world. Oakley has the right to his opinion. Knicks supremo James Dolan (below), however, thinks otherwise. And the man who is now in pole position to become the worst owner of all time surpassed himself by treating the New York legend with the kind of mind bending contempt he’s become infamous for.

Only four minutes of the Knicks home clash with LA Clippers had passed when a cabal of security guards were ushered into the posh seats. Oakley and some friends were sat four rows back, just behind Dolan who was courtside.

Suddenly a fight began brewing. A bemused and increasingly irate Oakley was told he needed to leave immediately. Cue pushing, shoving and a lot of shouting. The moment Oakley, who looks like someone not to be messed with, started manhandling an MSG bouncer, that was it.

The man who fought his heart out at the Garden was in a fight again – only this time he ended up in handcuffs and on his way to the Police station. “We were sat down having a good time, the next thing I know I was asked to leave the building,” Oakley said who was released after a few hours but charged with three counts of assault.

“I asked, ‘Why?’ and they said, ‘You have to leave because someone ordered you to leave.’ And I’m like, ‘I’ve been here four and a half minutes.’”

Witness reports vary widely. Some say Oakley was intoxicated and being aggressive towards Dolan. Others maintain he did nothing wrong. Oakley is convinced Dolan – who has since issued an indefinite ban from MSG – didn’t want him there and told his muscle to deal with it.

The head of security has since been sacked but whoever is to blame, it’s a sad sorry mess. It pains Oakley that he’s not welcome. This year marks the franchise’s 70th anniversary yet the proud Cleveland native hasn’t been invited to the party.

He buys his own tickets and has been ostracised for years just for speaking his mind. It’s pathetic. “Charles isn’t the only one who’s fallen foul of the owners,” a well placed source told Sport360.

“Ewing isn’t a big fan either. He never got an interview when they were looking for coaches.”

Yes, Oakley was wrong to put his hands all over the security guards who were only doing their job. Yet instead of letting everything calm down and attempt a reconciliation, the Knicks, clearly under the orders of Dolan, shamefully excelled themselves.

These are, after all, grown men we’re talking about. Having already scraped the barrel of decency by immediately releasing a statement urging Oakley ‘to get help’, the Knicks supremo, himself a recovering addict, stooped even lower.

“Charles is his own worst problem,” Dolan told ESPN radio while maintaining Oakley’s rants had ‘sexual and racial overtones’. “He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know. But those behaviours of being physically and verbally abusive, those are personality problems.”

He “may” have serious problems? Wow. Dolan should be expecting a defamation lawsuit in the post while Oakley has penned in a press conference this week. This sorry tale isn’t over yet the ramifications go beyond the duelling duo.

Who in their right mind would join the Knicks right now? Kevin Durant said no thanks this summer. Others will follow suit.

With a clueless owner alienating everyone and a cryptic, tired Phil Jackson continuing on one of the sorriest reigns known to man (following the loss to Denver which was punctuated with chants of ‘Oakley, Oakley’ his record stands at 71-148 ), the Garden is in meltdown…again.

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