Charles Oakley-James Dolan truce brokered by Adam Silver, Michael Jordan
Charles Oakley could be back at Madison Square Garden as a guest of Knicks owner James Dolan in the near future.
The NBA intervened in the Oakley-Dolan feud Monday, trying to put an end to what NBA commissioner Adam Silver called a “disheartening” situation.
Silver met with Dolan and Oakley at the league office in Manhattan on Monday while Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan took part on a conference call. Jordan is close friends with Oakley, his former teammate, and has built a relationship with Dolan.
Silver said the two men were “apologetic” about what happened, and it sounds as if things can be ironed out.
Oakley was removed from his seat behind Dolan during Wednesday night’s game and, after a confrontation with security officers that involved some shoving by Oakley, was dragged out by Garden security guards, taken to the ground and handcuffed. Oakley was arrested that night and banned from the Garden two days later by Dolan, who said the beloved former Knick was being verbally abusive.
“It is beyond disheartening to see situations involving members of the NBA family like the one that occurred at Madison Square Garden this past week,” Silver said in a statement.
“Both Mr. Oakley and Mr. Dolan were apologetic about the incident and subsequent comments, and their negative impact on the Knicks organization and the NBA,” Silver continued. “Mr. Dolan expressed his hope that Mr. Oakley would return to MSG as his guest in the near future.”
A source said Tuesday that the Garden's ban on Oakley has been lifted.
The Knicks have received blowback from current and former NBA players. Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade all came out in support of Oakley.
Community leaders and activists also called on Dolan to lift Oakley’s ban. Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams had set up a meeting with Dolan for Monday that a source said was postponed because of the sit-down at the NBA office.
Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement on Monday in which he demanded that Dolan let Oakley come back to the Garden. Sharpton said if his demands were not met, he would help organize a protest with his organization, the National Action Network, and “mobilize people to picket Madison Square Garden in solidarity.”
But the Knicks might avoid that unwanted PR now that Dolan and Oakley appear to be headed toward a truce.
“I appreciate the efforts of Mr. Dolan, Mr. Oakley and Mr. Jordan to work toward a resolution of this matter,” Silver said.
Oakley, a popular member of the 1990s Knicks, has had a long-running dispute with Dolan and has not been welcomed back at the Garden in recent years.
Latrell Sprewell knows that feeling. He hadn’t been a guest of the Knicks since he cursed at Dolan during a game in 2003 while he was a member of the Timberwolves. But Sprewell was back at the Garden on Sunday for the first time since his playing career ended and was seated right next to Dolan.
Several former Knicks were near Dolan, including Johnson, Bernard King and Vin Baker, but Sprewell’s presence led to speculation that the team was reacting to the Oakley situation in an attempt to change the subject and showcase its positive relationships with other team alumni.
Sprewell, who lives in Milwaukee, said before participating in the 18th annual Knicks Bowl at Chelsea Piers on Monday that he wasn’t officially invited back until Saturday.
“I hope they can iron it out,” Sprewell said. “It would be great for the team, obviously. Everybody makes mistakes. It would be nice to just get past that."