Charles Oakley coaches during a BIG3 game at Barclays Center...

Charles Oakley coaches during a BIG3 game at Barclays Center June 25, 2017. Credit: Corey Sipkin

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed Charles Oakley’s civil lawsuit against Madison Square Garden and James Dolan, its executive chairman and CEO, that stemmed from MSG security's ejection of the former Knicks player from the stands during a nationally televised game in February 2017.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan said in a 22-page filing that he was granting MSG's nearly two-year-old request to dismiss the lawsuit because Oakley's claims of defamation, assault and false imprisonment did not reach the legal bar necessary for the suit to proceed.

“From its inception, this case has had the feel of a public relations campaign, with the parties seemingly more interested in the court of public opinion than the merits of their legal arguments,” Sullivan said. “That is perhaps understandable, given the personal and public nature of the dispute.

“But while basketball fans in general, and Knicks fans in particular, are free to form their own opinions about who was in the right and whether Oakley’s ejection was motivated by something more than the whims of the team’s owner, the fact remains that Oakley has failed to allege a plausible legal claim that can meet federal pleading standards.”

Oakley’s civil lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court in September 2017, accused Dolan of defamation and slander for his comments in an ESPN Radio interview in the aftermath of the incident, which occurred in the first quarter of a Knicks-Clippers game.

The lawsuit also accused MSG of assault, battery, abuse of power and false imprisonment for the treatment of Oakley that day. Oakley sought unspecified damages.

MSG released a statement that said: “We thank the court for its ruling. This was an incident that no one was happy about. Maybe now there can be peace between us.”

Oakley's attorney, Douglas Wigdor, said by email: "Charles is not one to give up. While we are disappointed with the ruling, it’s just the beginning of the fourth quarter and we are confident that we can turn this around with an appeal that we plan to file in the coming days."

Oakley did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan said in a 22-page filing that Oakley's claims did not reach the legal bar necessary.


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