OKLAHOMA CITY — Jeff Van Gundy hopes that Charles Oakley and the Knicks will repair their relationship and believes Oakley’s jersey No. 34 should be raised to the Garden rafters.
Van Gundy coached Oakley with the Knicks and is happy to see that things appear to be moving in a positive direction after last week’s ugly incident inside Madison Square Garden.
“I love the Knicks, and I love Charles Oakley,” said Van Gundy, who worked Wednesday night’s Knicks-Thunder game as an ESPN analyst. “Charles, with all of his greatness, helped me immeasurably. So I’m glad that it seems that it’s heading toward a positive resolution.
“Hopefully one day very soon it’s ‘Charles Oakley Day.’ I do think his number should be retired. The longevity and his accomplishments warrant it. But more so that he understands exactly what he meant to the organization and the city.”
Oakley was removed from his seat last Wednesday and escorted out of the Garden after a skirmish with security. He was ultimately arrested and banned from the Garden on Friday by Knicks owner James Dolan.
But NBA commissioner Adam Silver met with Oakley and Dolan Monday, with Hornets owner Michael Jordan taking part on a conference call. Dolan lifted the ban and hopes to have Oakley back as a guest. But Oakley said he’s not ready to return and wants the Knicks owner to apologize to the fans.
“I’m thankful that the Knicks opened the door when he is ready that he can come back,” Van Gundy said. “When he’s ready I think it will be something really, really positive.
“I think the fans will love it. I think the Knicks organization will be so glad that they did, and Charles will be honored that they have taken that step to honor. I’m just hopeful that it keeps going in a positive direction.”
Van Gundy was supposed to do that Knicks-Clippers game for ESPN but was pulled off. When he watched it on television, Van Gundy said all he thought about was Oakley’s well-being.
“Your first thing is for him, to make sure that he’s OK and that he’s getting the support that he needed,” Van Gundy said. “I was very thankful that he didn’t spend the night in jail. That’s why I’m hopeful that it’s a positive resolution because that shouldn’t be our last thing to see of him and the Garden.”