Charles Oakley said he is hurt and wants a public apology before he steps back into Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks, according to a source, lifted Oakley’s ban from the Garden on Tuesday, six days after a confrontation with security guards that resulted in his arrest and four days after James Dolan announced he would no longer be welcome in the building.
Oakley told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday that he is “in pain now. I’m hurt.” He said he has no immediate plans to return to the Garden.
“It’s not about being at the Garden,” Oakley told Goodman. “It’s about the fans. I want them to apologize to the fans. I told the commissioner I want them to apologize to the fans.”
Later, in a separate interview on ESPN’s “Dan Le Batard Show,” Oakley reiterated his need for a public apology.
“I have never asked for nothing,” Oakley said. “I love the fans in New York. They’ve been supportive. One of the things I told the commissioner, I want to have a press conference and I want him to apologize to me and the fans. They’ve had my back and they’ve felt the pain. I really appreciate the people all around who’ve had my back.”
On Monday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver met with Dolan and Oakley in New York to discuss the situation. Michael Jordan, a close friend of Oakley’s and the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, joined the meeting by phone. The league then released a statement that said both Dolan and Oakley had apologized from the fallout of last Wednesday’s situation.
The statement said that both Dolan and Oakley were apologetic about the incident and subsequent comments, and their negative impact on the Knicks organization and the NBA. “Mr. Dolan expressed his hope that Mr. Oakley would return to MSG as his guest in the near future,” Silver said in the statement.
Oakley, who played 10 seasons at power forward for the Knicks, told Le Batard that he was particularly upset about comments Dolan made last Friday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio, indicating that Oakley had a drinking problem.
“That hurt my character more than the 10 guys that jumped on me,” Oakley said.
Oakley told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith late Monday night after the meeting with the commissioner and Dolan that his mother and family had been upset by the way he was being treated.
The Knicks are used to a degree of turmoil, but the past six days have taken things to a whole new level, coach Jeff Hornacek said.
“Yeah, for us, it is another thing this year that has been a minor distraction,” he said. “Not a big deal for our guys, they handled it pretty well, but there is always talk about it. Oak was a great player for the Knicks and hopefully someday he comes back.”
The incident happened in full view of an incredulous-looking Knicks bench. Oakley was removed from his seat behind Dolan during the Knicks-Clippers game after a confrontation that involved some shoving from Oakley. He was dragged out by Garden security guards, taken to the ground and handcuffed. Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault in the third degree, criminal trespassing and was issued a desk appearance ticket, according to the NYPD.
“I think as two men the only way something can get resolved is if those two men sit down and have a man-to-man conversation,” Carmelo Anthony said after Knicks practice. “From what I’m hearing and what I’m seeing on TV, that’s what happened. We would love to see Oakley back in the building. But I’m glad to see the two men sat down and kind of had that conversation.”