Charles Oakley, a cornerstone of the New York Knicks basketball team from 1988 to 1998, was arrested Wednesday at Madison Square Garden during a game between his former team and the Los Angeles Clippers. As both teams looked on and fans chanted his name, the 6 foot 8 inch former power forward got into an altercation with security, eventually pushing them and then being wrestled from the stands, where he was taken to the ground and put in cuffs.
While accounts vary, many blame the dust up on long simmering tensions between Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan, who was seated two rows in front of him. In an interview with The New York Times last fall, Oakley was quoted saying: “The boss don’t like me.” This was the result of criticisms he has made about managment of the storied NBA franchise, which has struggled over the past decade, both on and off the court.
Following the arrest, The Knicks organization released a statement, saying Oakley behaved in a “highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner.” Fans and spectators, however, dispute this account. Ian Schafer, who witnessed and filmed the incident, told NBC News, "It didn't look like he did anything to provoke this, but several security guards approached him and things escalated from there." After being dragged into the tunnel, people heard Oakley blaming Dolan, as Knicks president Phil Jackson tried to calm him.
In an interview with The New York Daily News following his release, Oakley said he bought his own tickets to the game and denied taunting Dolan or causing a disturbance. Eventually security guards approached him and asked him why he was there. "They asked me to leave, and I said I'm not leaving," he told sports writer Frank Isola. Police sources say Oakley was charged with three counts of third-degree assault and one count of criminal trespass, all misdemeanors, and released with an appearance ticket.
[Photo: NBC Sports]