In a bizarre moment halfway through the first quarter of a New York Knicks home game, Charles Oakley was removed from his front row seat, handcuffed and at one point brought to the ground after an altercation. Oakley, who spent 10 seasons with the Knicks, was reportedly arguing with owner James Dolan before the situation escalated, according to multiple reporters on the scene.
It took a number of security members to remove Oakley, who refused to calm down even after being escorted into the tunnels. Play briefly stopped with Knicks and Clippers players watching the scene.
Oakley was taken to Midtown Precinct South and was charged with three counts of misdemeanor third-degree assault and one count of misdemeanor criminal trespass, according to The New York Times. He was released with an appearance ticket and told his side of the story in an impromptu interview at Jimmy’s NYC, a restaurant near Madison Square Garden.
“Me and four friends went to the game tonight and watched Knicks-Clippers,” Oakley said in the video. “We had just sat down to have a good time, and then I was asked to leave the building. I asked why, and they said, ‘You have to leave because someone ordered me to leave.’”
Oakley also told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that he was provoked by security guards asking why he was seated near Dolan. Oakley said he purchased his own tickets.
At least one person, former Knicks president Dave Checketts, attempted to bail out Oakley, though there were reportedly a number of Knicks fans who arrived at the precinct in support.
Just got off the phone with my dad. He's currently attempting to bail Oakley out of jail. This is beyond said. Knicks should be ashamed.— Spencer Checketts (@1280Spence) February 9, 2017
On the court while Oakley was being handcuffed and removed, fans in the arena chanted “Free Oakley.”
After Oakley was removed from his seat, Knicks president Phil Jackson attempted to calm down Oakley in the tunnel as the game against the Clippers continued on the court.
Phil Jackson trying to calm down Charles Oakley in the tunnel, surrounded by security.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 9, 2017
Charles Oakley is in Garden hallways shouting, "Fuck that, let me go."— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) February 9, 2017
Knicks PR issued this statement about Oakley.
Oakley, however, was yelling that he did nothing to provoke this reaction from MSG security.
About a dozen MSG security members around Oakley, who's cuffed. He's yelling 'I didn't do nothing.' https://t.co/QMzYbMF0bI— Yaron Weitzman (@YaronWeitzman) February 9, 2017
While Oakley spent most of his career in New York, he is not affiliated with the team in his retirement and has publicly criticized both Dolan and the franchise. Likewise, the Knicks do not include him in events celebrating the team’s 70th anniversary. It’s a surprise that Oakley was even in attendance on Wednesday.
Here’s what appears to be full video of Oakley’s altercation and his removal by security.
Soooooo Charles Oakley just got into a fight at he Knicks game. pic.twitter.com/klZBD89VI7— Ian Schafer (@ischafer) February 9, 2017
Here’s a closer look, with Oakley on the ground.
SBNY Exclusive: Charles Oakley on the ground surrounded by police and Garden security pic.twitter.com/cemhHF4Lu0— SportsBlogNewYork (@SportBlogNYC) February 9, 2017
Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a former teammate of Oakley’s, said the incident was “sad” and “tough to watch.”
"It's sad. That was tough for me to watch," Rivers said. "Honest to God, you can see I actually took three steps. I swear I was going to run down there, and then I thought, 'What the hell am I going to do?' But I didn't like that. That's my guy. So that was tough to watch from where I was standing."
LeBron James, a friend of Carmelo Anthony and a Northeast Ohio native like Oakley, posted this message on Instagram.
We are updating this post as more information comes out.