Knicks fan favorite Charles Oakley got into a physical altercation with Madison Square Garden security, shoving at least three, and was later arrested, according to the Knicks, after being escorted out by a throng of men in the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers.
In the Knicks tunnel, which is located under the stands, Oakley was handcuffed and was surrounded by security as he got into a shouting match with Knicks president Phil Jackson. It was unclear if Oakley’s anger was directed at Jackson or if Jackson was trying to calm him. Oakley, who has had a difficult relationship with Knicks management since leaving the game, yelled the name of owner James Dolan, who was near Oakley at the time of the outburst.
“Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner,” the Knicks said in a statement. “He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department. He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon.”
Oakley yelled that he didn’t do anything, though much of the fight was broadcast live on ESPN. In the video, Oakley is surrounded by several men, at least some from the security team, and stands up. Oakley bodychecks one man and then shoves him. He pushes past another man and when a third man grabs him by the arm, Oakley shoves him repeatedly.
Oakley was taken down to the ground right before entering the tunnel, where fans took video of him with his back on the floor as an officer tried to restrain him.
Oakley was escorted out in a police van, but not before he could be heard screaming, “Let me go! Let me go! I’m not walking!”.
Sources said Oakley was being charged with three misdemeanor assaults and a trespass. He was issued a desk appearance ticket and left the precinct in a black SUV at 11:51 p.m. without speaking to reporters,
“That was sad. That was tough for me to watch,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a former Knicks teammate of Oakley’s for parts of three seasons. “Honest to God, you could see I actually took three steps. I swear I was going to run down there. I thought, ‘What the hell am I going to do?” But I didn’t like [what I was seeing]. That’s my guy. That was tough to watch from where I was.”
Regarding how Garden security handled the situation, Rivers said, “They had to do what they had to do. They were in the right. Security has to do what they have to do. But at the end of the day it’s still your teammate and so that was tough.”
Oakley has had a well-documented and difficult relationship with the Knicks and Dolan in particular. He has said in the past that he doesn’t feel welcome, and told reporters earlier this season that he felt “hated” by the organization. He also had expressed a desire to be involved with the Knicks, but his efforts have been rebuffed.
Mike Breen, the Knicks’ longtime play-by-play man, was working last night’s game for ESPN when Oakley was ejected. rom Madison Square Garden.
After a report on the incident from sideline reporter Doris Burke, Breen said, “As somebody who has lived in New York my whole life, and broadcasting for the Knicks throughout Charles Oakley’s time here, he is beloved in this city for the type of player he was, and to see an incident like this, it’s just painful.
“It’s so sad that the relationship between Oakley and the Knicks organization has gotten to the point where something like this happened.”With Neil Best
and Anthony Rieber