Charles Oakley probably did something every Knicks has dreamed of doing last night, except it earned him a trip to jail.
The former Knicks forward, beloved by the Madison Square Garden faithful who fondly remember him from the days when the Knicks were, you know, actually good, took a trip to a Manhattan precinct last night in handcuffs after he allegedly heckled Knicks owner James Dolan during the first quarter of Wednesday’s Knicks-Clippers game.
The Garden faithful looked on in disbelief at the ensuing scuffle, where Oakley pushed a bunch of security guards before being rushed to a side tunnel where he was subdued and later escorted to jail. But if they could do it over, they’d probably give Oakley a standing ovation for having the balls to chew out—or at the very least intimidate—Dolan, who was only a few seats away.
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
Because all Knicks fans have endured during the reign of Dolan has been complete trash, following by steaming piles of garbage, followed by agonizing despair with almost no hope of a brighter tomorrow. Pretty much everything the man has touched since taking over the franchise in 1999 has turned to shit and Oakley was the millions of frustrated and fed-up Knicks fans rolled into one 53-year-old intimidating vessel last night.
Blowing through head coaches and team executives, attracting high-priced free agents only to watch them spectacularly fail, enduring an embarrassing sexual harassment scandal, defending Isiah Thomas, driving away Donnie Walsh and Larry Brown, and basically meddling in all aspects of the business to the detriment of the product on the court has been Dolan’s legacy. And then there’s his most recent high-profile addition, team president Phil Jackson, whose head games with Carmelo Anthony and horrendous basketball decisions (other than drafting Kristaps Porzingis) have diehards clamoring for his dismissal. But we’ll save Phil’s takedown for another time.
Oakley hasn’t been afraid to hammer Dolan for all his misdeeds and voice his disapproval over what he’s seen on the court and how he’s been treated off it. Basically he’s been punished by the franchise for telling it like it is. Dolan has gone out of his way to be petty, making sure Oakley, despite being one of the most popular Knicks in the franchise’s history, doesn’t receive comped tickets and isn’t involved in any special ceremonies that honor past teams, even as the franchise spends all year long celebrating its 70th season. So much for the franchise’s heralded “Once a Knick, always a Knick” slogan.
New York may be considered one of the NBA’s crown jewel franchises, but really it’s a clown organization. And it starts at the top.
So it all came to a head last night and before the end of the first quarter, Oakley was on his way to jail. The true story of what went down will eventually come out and if Oakley was being overly obnoxious around the fans and saying some really inappropriate things, then there’s no condoning his behavior. And of course he shouldn’t have gotten physical with the security guards. But if he was slyly heckling Dolan, a man whose skin is as thin as Donald Trump’s and a man who notoriously fired a Garden employee because she didn’t immediately recognize him, and that’s what basically led to his arrest, how do you not side with Oak?
Reportedly, one of the Garden’s executives most responsible for the Knicks’ success back in the ‘90s, Dave Checketts, offered to bail Oakley out. He wasn’t the only Knicks fan who would have ponied up money to get Oak out of jail. A Kickstarter to #FreeOakley would have collected enough bail money to spring him faster than Phil Jackson can fire off a tweet.
So once again, the story about the Knicks wasn’t what happened on the court—for the record, they blew a 10–point fourth quarter lead last night—but rather off it. New York may be considered one of the NBA’s crown jewel franchises, but really it’s a clown organization. And it starts at the top. All the evidence you need can be found in the sanctimonious press release Knicks PR released after the incident. The Knicks couldn’t help themselves, taking one last petty swipe at Oakley ending it with “we hope he gets some help soon.”
Oh, the irony.