How did Charles Oakley, a Knicks mainstay in the 1990s, find himself wrestled to the floor by six Madison Square Garden security guards in the middle of a game? Oakley said he was provoked by MSG security acting at the behest of one of their bosses.
“Me and four friends went to the game tonight to watch the Knicks and the Clippers,” Oakley said in an interview at Jimmy’s NYC, a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. “We had just sat down to have a good time. Next thing I know, I was asked to leave the building. I asked why, and they said, ‘You have to leave because someone ordered you to leave.’”
ESPN posted a longer video of the interview, during which Oakley reiterated that security guards were acting on someone’s orders. He did not mention owner James Dolan’s name specifically.
“More and more kept coming at me, and I was like, ‘Why do I have to leave?’ They said I had to leave. They got ordered,” Oakley said. “I was on my back. Total disrespect.”
The incident, which occurred midway through the first quarter, ended with several security guards pinning Oakley to the floor in the MSG tunnel. The Knicks say that Oakley “behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner.” Oakley was charged with three counts of third-degree assault and one count of criminal trespassing, all misdemeanors.
Eyewitness accounts suggest that Oakley did argue with security guards and was the first to get physical, but those same guards escalated the conflict more than necessary.
“If more than two or three people walk up to you, and, you know, you’d feel threatened,” Oakley said, via ESPN.
Oakley has a long and complicated history with the Knicks. He became a fan favorite during his time there, but had a falling out with owner James Dolan that continues to this day. Oakley said Dolan won’t even meet with him.
“The boss don’t like me,” Oakley told Scott Cacciola of the New York Times. “I wouldn’t mind having a sit-down dinner with Dolan. I wouldn’t mind cooking him dinner.”
It’s unclear if Oakley will ever be welcome in Madison Square Garden again, but he said he will continue to support the team.
“I’m a Knicks fan for life, whether I go back to the Garden or not. I’m still going to cheer for the Knicks,” he said, via ESPN.