When the Knicks took the court against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, Spike Lee was not in his usual seat courtside, but that didn’t mean that all was quiet and peaceful for the Knicks.
Former Knicks standout Charles Oakley has been engaged in an angry spat with the organization, a dispute that hit its ugliest moment in 2017 when Oakley was dragged by security from his seat a few rows behind Garden Chairman James Dolan. And Oakley spoke out Wednesday, appearing on ESPN’s "Golic and Wingo" show, continuing his tirade against Dolan.
Starting from Lee’s war of words with the Garden that had surfaced over the prior two days, Oakley, who was banned for a year -- and has refused to return even after the ban was removed -- wondered just how bad things will get for the Knicks.
“You want to see everybody in life succeed, do better,” Oakley said. “But when you see a business like this year after year . . . having problems off the court, trying to get people to come to games and they’re not coming because it’s a toxic situation, because it’s so much control going on . . . egos. These people who run a team, sometimes owners sit back and watch; this guy wants to be the CEO, the head of operations, he wants to be in control. It shouldn’t be run like that. It should be run by a group of people, not a control freak.
“My thing with the Knicks going forward, the league is a different league now. Ain’t a lot of talent so it’s hard to get talent to come. But when you get that piece, you’ve got to keep it. The only way they’re going to get a superstar is if they get lucky in the draft. That’s the only way I can see. These other guys, they see what’s going on. They don’t want to be around that environment."
This time, the Knicks kept quiet, refusing to issue a statement or answer back regarding Oakley’s comments. But Oakley said that the damage has been done already with players around the league hearing the troubles that have confronted himself, Lee, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.
“No doubt. I mean, not saying I was a superstar, but I played my heart out, did my job,” Oakley said. “They say, even Dwyane Wade said, they treat you like that, how you think they’re going to treat us? … The thing that kills the team, kills their hope for the future, you get a new president [Leon Rose] and don’t get to introduce him to the press, to the people because of this. It just wiped the whole thing out. You did something positive and you’re right back at ground zero.”