Charles Oakley Saga finally at an End
The Charles Oakley saga is trending toward a happy ending.
Three days after he was indefinitely banned from Madison Square Garden in the wake of his ejection and arrest at a game Wednesday, the Knicks icon met with owner James Dolan and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, with Hornets owner and close friend Michael Jordan participating by phone, on Monday at the league office to hash out their differences. Ground was made up, and it appears the Garden ban soon will be lifted.
“Both Mr. Oakley and Mr. Dolan were apologetic about the incident and subsequent comments, and their negative impact on the Knicks organization and the NBA,” Silver said in a statement. “Mr. Dolan expressed his hope that Mr. Oakley would return to MSG as his guest in the near future.”
Oakley’s camp made contact with the Knicks one day after Dolan ended his longtime feud with Latrell Sprewell in a public display at the Garden, a source familiar with the situation said. It is believed ex-Knick, former Oakley teammate and alumni-relations coordinator Larry Johnson may have met with Oakley either Sunday or Monday. It is unclear what will happen to the pending criminal charges — three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of misdemeanor trespassing — against Oakley.
Oakley, revered by Knicks fans for his relentless effort and hard-nosed defense, was banned Friday in the wake of his arrest in which he was taken down by a number of Garden security guards. On Friday, Frank Benedetto, the Garden’s senior vice president for security, was fired as part of the fallout. The Knicks owner said Oakley, who has been critical of Dolan and the team in the past, was ejected for being verbally abusive to security, which Oakley denied. Dolan also said he thinks Oakley may have a drinking or anger-management problem, which the former Knick also denied to The Post. Oakley said he does not have a problem with alcohol and instead helps alcoholics.
Dolan is a recovering alcoholic and said he would lend a hand to Oakley if he indeed wanted that help. But Oakley countered he has tried to meet with Dolan in the past to mend the relationship, only to be rebuffed, and has had to buy his own tickets to attend Knicks games.
The Knicks received blow-back from their decision to ban Oakley, demands from Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams and Rev. Al Sharpton to drop the sanction and charges against Oakley. Fans have chanted in support of Oakley at Knicks, Rangers and St. John’s games at the Garden.
NBA players LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, J.R. Smith and Chris Paul all voiced their support for Oakley, who spent 10 seasons with the Knicks and was an All-Star during the 1993-94 season. Former Pacers guard Reggie Miller wondered why any potential free agents would play for an owner who “treats past greats like this.”
Movie director Spike Lee described the entire situation as “insanity.”
Sharpton said in a statement Monday his National Action Network would organize a group to picket outside the Garden if the situation wasn’t resolved. At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Adams said a scheduled meeting with Dolan was postponed after he was told “new developments” arose, and indeed they had.
Adams had called on the Knicks to drop the charges against Oakley and lift the ban, and also asked Silver to launch an independent investigation.
Adams stood by his stance that there was a “racial component” in what happened to Oakley at the Garden last week. On Sunday, Adams said it was “Eric Garner without the chokehold,” and Monday he didn’t back off from that bold statement.
But hours later, a truce seemed to have been established, and sometime soon Oakley could be back at the Garden.
Source: New York Post