Oak­ley’s ar­rest low­est point in fall­ing out with Knicks

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY BRIAN MA­HONEY

Charles Oak­ley main­tains he did noth­ing wrong be­fore he was sur­rounded by Madi­son Square Gar­den se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

Some­thing has hap­pened, though, to turn him from pop­u­lar player to per­sona non grata within his for­mer fran­chise.

Oak­ley blamed his strained re­la­tion­ship with the Knicks and owner James Dolan on Thurs­day for the al­ter­ca­tion that led to his ejec­tion and ar­rest from New York’s 119-115 loss to the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers on Wed­nes­day night.

Oak­ley said dur­ing an ESPN Ra­dio in­ter­view that he had been in his seat for just a few min­utes when he was sur­rounded by se­cu­rity, deny­ing that they ap­proached him af­ter he shouted at Dolan.

“Now I’m four rows from this guy, so I’m go­ing to walk in this place and just start hol­ler­ing, ‘James Dolan! James Dolan!’ I mean, that’s em­bar­rass­ing, man. I did not do none of that,” Oak­ley said. “I didn’t know the man was sit­ting in front of me at first un­til they walked over there.”

Oak­ley said he has been told that Dolan must be in­formed by se­cu­rity when­ever he is in the arena, and that MSG staff fol­lows him when he leaves his seat to go the bath­room.

But the Knicks said he was caus­ing trou­ble Wed­nes­day even be­fore se­cu­rity reached his seat.

“There are dozens of se­cu­rity staff, em­ploy­ees and NYPD that wit­nessed Oak­ley’s abu­sive be­hav­iour,” the team said in a state­ment. “It started when he en­tered the build­ing and con­tin­ued un­til he was ar­rested and left the build­ing. Ev­ery sin­gle state­ment we have re­ceived is con­sis­tent in de­scrib­ing his ac­tions. Ev­ery­thing he said since the in­ci­dent is pure fic­tion.”

Clip­pers for­ward Blake Grif­fin said he rec­og­nized Oak­ley right away and saw him say some­thing to Dolan be­fore the al­ter­ca­tion at his seat.

“I was walk­ing down and I saw him. He stopped and he started talk­ing to Dolan,” Grif­fin said. “But it was crazy. I didn’t know what it was about or any­thing. I just saw a bunch of com­mo­tion.”

Oak­ley was charged with three counts of mis­de­meanour as­sault and one count of crim­i­nal tres­pass. He is ac­cused of strik­ing one se­cu­rity guard in the face with a closed fist, and when two other peo­ple tried to in­ter­vene, both were pushed and re­ceived cuts.

He is due back in court April 11.

Oak­ley pushed and shoved his way around the bas­ket­ball court at MSG for 10 years as a fight­ing for­ward dur­ing an era of ex­cel­lence for the Knicks, who made one NBA Fi­nals ap­pear­ance and be­came an East­ern Con­fer­ence power while Oak­ley played for them from 1988-98.

He was back there brawl­ing again Wed­nes­day, only this time it was a sad sight in what’s per­haps the team’s sor­ri­est era.

The Knicks have be­come one of the league’s worst teams, win­ning just one play­off se­ries since 2001 and fall­ing to a fran­chise­worst 17 wins two years ago. Oak­ley has been a vo­cal critic of the per­for­mance and that’s led to his fall­ing out with the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The team gave him com­pli­men­tary tick­ets and ac­knowl­edged him on the video board when he first re­tired, but stopped giv­ing him passes af­ter he blasted the team to re­porters at a game. He is no longer in­vited to of­fi­cial team events and when he does go to games, pays his own way. He’s not sure if will keep go­ing.

“My thing is, I would love to be able to go to the Gar­den, but I don’t want to keep go­ing to the Gar­den if all this is go­ing to keep hap­pen­ing,” Oak­ley said. “My thing is, I feel sorry for the fans be­cause those fans like me, and they ap­pre­ci­ate me and I ap­pre­ci­ate them.”

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