The Charles Oakley Incident

By John Bernardo
Feb. 11, 2017

Charles Oakley was arrested by The New York Police Department after an altercation at Madison Square Garden on February 8th, 2017. Now that the dust has settled a bit, let's see who's at fault. 

Everyone is at fault. We need take take an in depth look at what went on here, why it went on, and if Oakley's reaction what just, along with the actions of The New York Knicks.

Oakley bought some expensive an expensive ass ticket and sat 3 rows behind James Dolan, the owner of The New York Knicks. That's all we know for sure.

At this point in the story differing accounts surface. Oakley said he was minding his own business, watching the game, enjoying his time etc. The New York Knicks claim Oakley was acting inapproppriately, shouting obscenities in Dolan's direction and being "verbally abusive". I would like to point out if you threw out every verbally abusive fan at every sporting event, in Madison Square Garden or otherwise you'd be throwing out 25% of the crowd. Anyway.

Roughly 4 minutes into the game Oakley is asked to leave the building. In a post-incident Oakley justified his action by saying, "You know what 7, 8, 9, guys come up on you, you know, you have to brace yourself". I'm not with Oakley on this one. No one is getting jumped in public, at Madison Square Garden, by 5 well dressed security guys. Oakley said he was "ordered out of the building". I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess Oakely was ordered out by James Dolan. We still don't know, what he obscenities he was shouting, if, any at all.

It was also reported Oakley was drinking before the game. Define drinking. He was seen at a pizza shop drinking a couple of beers and eating a slice of pizza before the game, or he pounded a bottle of Jim Bean in anticipation of a battle with James Dolan. When news organizations report vague details, it hampers our ability to give judgement on a situation. Poor reporting like this creates false impressions. First impressions can linger and I wish organizations would refrain from reporting vague details.

Away from the details and back to the story. Oakley didn't simply get up and leave. After being surrounded by 5 guys he stuck his finger in the face on one guy. Eventually the security guards attempted to "guide" Oakley away from the seats and one guy put his hand on Oakley's arm. Oakley pushed him. From there it only got uglier with Oakley shoving and the security guys resorting to force to remove Oakley. 

Some of this is on Dolan. The Knicks have been borderline unwatchable for years. It's a poorly run organization which is never bad enough to bottom out, and never good enough to make noise in the playoffs. When you've been through this many coaches, this many general managers, and have been this bad for this long the only consistent thing is the owner. Maybe he doesn't care about basketball. Maybe he likes the money The Knicks franchise is making. They were ranked #1 in value by Forbes last year. But man they look ugly.

James Dolan, black suit, middle left
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This incident was so ugly it stopped the game on the court. It was visible, near the front row. Numerous people in the crowd were recording the incident. This reflected poorly on Oakley but what about the Knicks as an organization?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of sending 5 guys to take out Oakley, it would have been much more simple to send 1 guy, quietly tap Oakley on the shoulder and ask him to leave. The good old, "I don't want to make a scene here, but we'll let you go with your dignity". Maybe Oakley was drunk, maybe security knew it was going to take a team effort. But, they should've let Oakley look like the bad guy for the sake of optics. Worst that happens at that point is Oakley says no. Then you bring in the backup. But there's another layer of negativity here. 

The head of security, whoever that is, was fired a day after the Oakley incident. Why fire the guy? Clearly someone told him Oakley needed to be removed. If Oakley was drunk, and The Knicks did claim he was drunk, and shouting obscenities, which The Knicks claim he did, security did their job. We don't know what The Knicks knew at the time. But I don't think the head of security should have gotten fired. 

[Carmelo Anthony finger wags crowd booing him at MSG (VIDEO)]

Lastly, look at all noise surrounding The Knicks. Not even a meeting with Kevin Durant when he was a free agent. Phil Jackson signing Joakim Noah to a historically bad contract. Carmelo Anthony being booed by the fans and wagging his finger at the crowd. Derek Rose going AWOL. Phil utilizing the media to slander Anthony when Phil was the one who signed Anthony to a 5 year extension and let Anthony have a no trade clause in his contract. An owner whom is universally reviled by the fans. And now this. Kicking out a former Knicks player whom is beloved by Knicks fans. I'm not saying Oakley didn't deserve it. The post below is from reddit user, /u/GenericHero. He calls for a boycott of The Knicks organization. As of now the boycott post has received 13.3k upvotes. I'm not saying I have enough information to come up with a conclusion yet. But man, this was a lose-lose. 

[From a Knicks fan: STOP BUYING KNICKS TICKETS * /r/nba]