Former NBA player Charles Oakley was arrested tonight in Madison Square Garden during the first quarter of the game between the visiting Los Angeles Clippers and the home team New York Knicks.
The shoving match in which the 6’8″ Oakley was surrounded and then removed by security and at least one cop was captured on Twitter video from several different angles thanks to ubiquitous smartphones. See footage below.
[see Update below]
“The game stopped briefly while he was being walked away from the court, as players watched the episode unfold. The crowd broke into chants of ‘Oakley! Oakley’ as he was being led off, ” the New York Times reported.
Oakley, 53, an ex-power forward in the league, played for the Knicks 1988 to 1998 after being traded to New York by the Chicago Bulls after three seasons. He also played for the Toronto Raptors, the Washington Wizards, and the Houston Rockets before retiring from pro basketball. Oakley, considered the on-court enforcer, was a key member of the Knicks squad that reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993 and the NBA Finals the following year in which his team lost to the Houston Rockets in seven games. Oakley finished his career averaging about 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.
According to the New York Daily News, Oakley allegedly wouldn’t stop yelling at team owner James Dolan, which led to the ruckus in the courtside seats under one one of the baskets.
Soooooo Charles Oakley just got into a fight at he Knicks game. pic.twitter.com/klZBD89VI7— Ian Schafer (@ischafer) February 9, 2017
In some of the footage, Oakley seems to be poking one MSG employee in the head and pushing another before getting dragged away. Oakley faces three counts of assault, according to Sports Illustrated and ABC7. The charges are misdemeanors. He also was reportedly charged with criminal trespass. The Times noted that Oakley will probably be released on what’s called a desk appearance ticket with a court date.
Oakley and Dolan evidently won’t be exchanging Christmas cards or sitting down for a Thanksgiving meal anytime soon, the New York Post suggests. “There has been bad blood between the two for years, and Oakley was heard shouting Dolan’s name. Knicks president Phil Jackson, also sitting nearby, tried to calm Oakley down.”
In November 2016, the New York Times similarly explained that “Oakley has been estranged from the Knicks organization for years, a rift that stems, at least in part, from Oakley’s inability to keep some of his more caustic opinions to himself. He has, at different times, criticized the team’s front office, coaches and resident stars…He has also called James L. Dolan, the owner, a bunch of bad names.” Oakely apparently also discouraged then-free agent LeBron James from signing with the Knicks in 2010.
SBNY Exclusive: Charles Oakley on the ground surrounded by police and Garden security pic.twitter.com/cemhHF4Lu0— SportsBlogNewYork (@SportBlogNYC) February 9, 2017
In a statement, the Knicks — who are commemorating their 70th anniversary this season — confirmed the Oakley arrest, ESPN indicated.
“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.”
Three MSG employees reportedly suffered minor injuries in the scuffle but declined any medical treatment.
In the on-court action, the 22-32 Knicks wound up losing the game 119 to 115 to the Clips.
The Daily News indicates that Charles Oakley is not considered part of the Knicks extended family. “Unlike other former players, Oakley is never invited back to the Garden or celebrated in tributes.”
The ex-player has also unsuccessfully tried to set up a meeting with owner Dolan to clear the air.
Charles Oakley shoves Madison Square Garden security and is escorted out of the building in strange scene pic.twitter.com/lTphvnSzFV— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 9, 2017
SBNY Exclusive Part II: Charles Oakley getting pulled out of the Garden pic.twitter.com/WtsVVVitH3— SportsBlogNewYork (@SportBlogNYC) February 9, 2017
Watch this space for updates on the arrest of former New York Knick star Charles Oakley at Madison Square Garden.
Update: Charles Oakley gives his side of the story in an Instagram video interview recorded at Manhattan bar/restaurant Jimmy’s NYC, saying that he was kicked out of the Garden shortly after arriving at the game with four friends.
A video posted by Jimmy’s NYC (@jimmysnyc) on
[Featured Image by Frank Franklin II/AP Images]