The feud between Charles Oakley and Knicks management continued to swell Thursday as the former Knick told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that he had done nothing wrong before being escorted out of the Garden Wednesday night and the Knicks issuing a statement calling his version “pure fiction.”
Oakley was escorted out of the Garden after a skirmish with security guards near the seat of Knicks owner James Dolan. He is accused of striking one security guard in the face with a closed fist, and when two other people tried to intervene, both were pushed and received cuts, according to The Associated Press.
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. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 11, police spokesman Det. Ahmed Nasser said.
In an ESPN radio interview with Smith on Thursday, Oakley said that he never yelled nor made contact with Dolan and was only reacting to the large security presence that asked him to leave. Oakley added that he had done nothing wrong and paid for the tickets.
“They have to tell Dolan whenever I walk into the Garden,” Oakley said of the Garden security staff. “I’m not walking into places and start hollering out James Dolan, James Dolan. That’s embarrassing. . . . I didn’t do nothing.”
The Knicks issued a statement in response to Oakley’s comments.
“There are dozens of security staff, employees and NYPD that witnessed Oakley’s abusive behavior. It started when he entered the building and continued until he was arrested and left the building. Every single statement we have received is consistent in describing his actions. Everything he has said since the incident is pure fiction.”
Despite the bad blood, Oakley said he still wanted to speak to Dolan in hopes of being involved with the team and even helping it improve.
“I really have no beef,” Oakley said. “I’ve been trying to sit down with [Dolan] for four or five years, find out what did I do to make him dislike me. All I did was play hard for the organization for 10 years and the fans and New York and gave my heart every night.”
He added: “Maybe I can come make a suggestion, make them get better. Who knows? They need something. . . . They need a jump.”
Oakley, who played for the Knicks from 1988-98, has received an outpouring of support from fans and players around the league. Fans chanted his name as he was being escorted out of the Garden by security. Motorists drove by the precinct where Oakley was being held Wednesday night and yelled, “Free Charles Oakley!” Chris Paul of the Clippers and Dwyane Wade of the Bulls criticized how the Knicks handled the situation.
Wade wrote on Instagram, in part, “Oak gave everything he had for this organization and the image everyone will be left with . . . will be the [image] of him being taken down to the ground last night in the same arena he gave his all 2 as a player.”
Paul took particular exception to the Knicks’ original statement, released Wednesday, that said they hoped Oakley “gets some help soon.”
“Hope that he gets some help soon? Not the right way to portray Oak . . . always had my back and the realest person our league has seen #UncleOak,” Paul tweeted.
Oakley, on Smith’s show, called that part of the statement “another smack in the face.”
“I want to say I’m sorry to all the fans at the Garden,” Oakley said. “All the fans that were watching. I never wanted to be a troublemaker in life. It was just a bad scene.”
Oakley has had a contentious relationship with Knicks management for years because of critical comments he’s made about the team. He has not been included in any of the team’s 70th anniversary celebrations.
On Wednesday night, Oakley was handcuffed shortly after he reached the tunnel and got into a heated conversation with Knicks president Phil Jackson, who appeared to be trying to calm him. After the talk, he began yelling that he did nothing wrong and that he should be let go.
Oakley’s attorney, Alex Spiro, said, “We deny the allegations and will answer them in court.” Reached by phone, Spiro said due to the nature of desk appearance tickets, a number of things can happen between now and the court date, including dismissal.
After Oakley was released late Wednesday night, he went to Jimmy’s BBQ, a restaurant across the street from the Garden, and taped an Instagram video giving a rawer version of the events.
“[Security] said, you have to leave because someone ordered you to leave,” he said on the video posted on the restaurant’s Instagram page. “I’m like, I’ve been here 4 1⁄2 minutes, I’m a Knicks fan, I played here for 10 1⁄2 years, I love the Knicks, I love New York in my heart, I wish them all the luck and success on the basketball court and I want to know why I’m not welcome in the Garden. They sent [some of] the guys. More and more kept coming at me.”