Charles Oakley has been banned from Madison Square Garden in the aftermath of his physical altercation with security officers during the first quarter of Wednesday night’s Knicks game, team owner James Dolan said Friday on “The Michael Kay Show’’ on ESPN Radio.
Dolan said the scuffle between Oakley and a team of security officers, which played out on national television and quickly made waves on social media, was part of a series of events in which Oakley acted in an “abusive” manner toward MSG employees.
“It’s very clear to us that Charles Oakley came to the Garden with an agenda, with a mission in mind,” Dolan said. “From the moment he stepped into the Garden, I mean the moment he stepped through the first set of doors, he began with this behavior, abusive behavior, disrespectful behavior, stuff I don’t think you want to say on the radio.”
Dolan said Oakley’s ban is “not necessarily a lifetime ban.” But he added that it was a necessary response to Wednesday’s incident because “we need to keep the Garden a place that’s comfortable and safe for everyone who goes there.”
Oakley did not respond to messages seeking comment but tweeted: “I love NYC I LOVE the Knicks that you for all your love . . . I will be holding a Press conference next week Let’s go Knicks”
Oakley has said he did nothing wrong and that he was minding his own business Wednesday when security asked him to leave.
In an ESPN radio interview with Stephen A. Smith on Thursday, Oakley said he never yelled at nor made contact with Dolan and was only reacting to the large security presence that asked him to leave. Oakley added that he paid for the tickets.
A Knicks spokesman on Friday released written statements from 12 MSG employees disputing Oakley’s account. The employees said Oakley was rude after being told an elevator was too full, ignored directions to his seat and aggressively accused security guards of watching him too closely once he got there. Security guards said he accused them and NYPD officers of racially targeting him as they were arresting him.
“I would like the fans to hear this,” Dolan said. “There were security people who were abused. There were service people who were abused . . . And they were abused in a really horrible, angry, nasty way with racial overtones, sexual overtones, stuff you never ever want to hear. How do you bring your kids to a game if you think that’s going to happen? You don’t.”
He added, “Charles has got a problem. I’ve said this before, we’ve said this before. He’s his own worst problem. He has a problem. People need to sort of understand that.
“He has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive . . . But those behaviors, being physically and verbally abusive, those are personality problems.”
Oakley said on Fox 5 on Thursday that he had “a couple” of drinks before arriving at MSG.
The Knicks also released internal video of the incident that shows Oakley arguing with security guards from his seat. In that video, one of the security guards says Oakley asked where Dolan was sitting and called the guard “a snitch” for then speaking with Dolan.
Dolan was sitting one row in front of Oakley and four seats to his right. He said when a security officer made Dolan aware that employees were having an issue with Oakley, he said his only request was to wait until between quarters if they had to handle it.
Dolan and Oakley have long had an acrimonious relationship. Oakley often has said that he’s wanted to have a meeting with Dolan so they could talk it out. But Dolan said Friday he and the Knicks tried to fix the relationship, to no avail.
“Every time we have tried to patch things up with him, to mend things with him, we invite him to games, every time it ends up the same way,” Dolan said. “Abusive, disrespectful and we eventually gave up and stopped trying to reach out to him. And now this.”
Carmelo Anthony said there is a cloud hanging over the Knicks, and it’s hard to see their way through it.
“I think the other night, what happened is just an accumulation of incident on top of incident on top of everything that’s going on, that’s surrounding the New York Knicks organization right now,” Anthony said. “It’s just kind of this cloud over us right now that we have to figure out a way to get out of it. I think you have to be in it, you have to be going through it, in order to understand it. From the outside looking in it looks bad. And it’s even worse when you’re getting through it.”
Dolan confirmed reports that senior vice president for security Frank Beneditto has been let go in the aftermath of the Oakley incident. “Charles never should have made it to his seats, and that’s on us,” Dolan said, “and we’re doing things to remedy this.”
With Al Iannazzone