Oakley still not ready to return to Madison Square Garden to watch Knicks | The Associated Press (2024)

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  • The Associated Press
  • May 12, 2024
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FORMER New York Knicks player Charles Oakley still isn’t ready to step foot inside Madison Square Garden, even with the team enjoying some of its best success since his era.

Not during these NBA playoffs, and certainly not as long as he has an ongoing lawsuit against Madison Square Garden and team owner James Dolan over a tussle with security at a 2017 game that got Oakley ejected from the arena.

Oakley believed there was an offer to join past Knicks players such as Stephon Marbury and Latrell Sprewell who have been attending playoff games at MSG, but a spokesperson for the organization said there has not been an invitation extended to Oakley.

That’s fine with the former NBA enforcer and rebounding machine with the 1990s Knicks. He said he has no interest in coming back — though he continues to root for the team — as long as he remains in a dispute with the organization.

The animosity dates to February 2017 when Oakley was arrested after an altercation with MSG security officials, who approached him at a game while he was seated near Dolan. MSG has said in court filings that Oakley was asked to leave the game because of his disruptive behavior.

Oakley was cleared of misdemeanor assault charges in 2018.

Oakley still not ready to return to Madison Square Garden to watch Knicks | The Associated Press (10)

So what would it take for Oakley to sit courtside at the Garden?

“They’ve got to apologize,” he said. “We’ll go from there. Can (Dolan) be man enough to say, mistakes happen. And he made one.”

Oakley brought assault and battery claims against Dolan and an amended lawsuit was filed just last month. An order Thursday assigned it to Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron to handle going forward.

“Just be honest,” Oakley said. “Just be transparent over what you put someone through and how you changed their life. This definitely changed my life. My daughter Googled me, they show them pulling me out of the Garden, that’s bad. That’s hell for a kid to see that.”

MSG has denied all of Oakley’s claims and said in a statement it expected this case to be thrown out after two previous dismissals.

“This matter should be behind all of us at this point, but because of the ongoing legal maneuverings of Charles Oakley and his lawyers, this case will apparently now have to continue,” MSG said. “Nevertheless, we fully expect this case to be dismissed — for the third time.”

Behind Jalen Brunson, the Knicks are enjoying an NBA renaissance and have a 2-1 lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Knicks are trying to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2000.

The 60-year-old Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988-98, helping them reach the NBA Finals. His relationship with the team remains poor even though Commissioner Adam Silver, with former Bulls teammate Michael Jordan participating by phone, worked to get the sides to reconcile in 2017 so Oakley could attend games at MSG.

“It’s been a struggle the last seven years,” Oakley said. “There have been things said that weren’t true. The league didn’t step in. The commissioner is pretty soft. He didn’t do nothing. The city got behind me and I’m always behind the fans. I love that.”

The Knicks’ two straight trips to the second round of the playoffs are their first since going nine consecutive times from 1992-2000. Oakley likes watching them, but he isn’t ready to do it from the arena like longtime teammate John Starks.

“I don’t want to get in their way, they’re playing great,” Oakley said. “I’m going to cheer at the guys to do well. I’m not mad at nobody on the floor.”

Oakley stirred some ill will recently toward his former teammates when he was a guest on an SiriusXM show and said Brunson was the best Knicks player since Walt Frazier. It was a slight that got back to Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, Oakley’s former Knicks teammate whom he has feuded with off and on with since they retired.

Ewing took the high road on another NBA podcast and declined to enter the debate.

“They said leadership was a big thing and Patrick wasn’t a great leader,” Oakley told The Associated Press. “Brunson, I think was way more a leader.”

Ewing and Oakley were stars on the team that reached the NBA Finals in 1994, when the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup. They also are in the second round of the playoffs.

“It’s like 1994 all over again,” Oakley said.

Image credits: AP

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