In the wake of another public confrontation between New York Knicks ownership and a personality closely associated with the team, former Knicks enforcer Charles Oakley says the NBA should step in to fix the issue.
“It’s got to be stopped in some kind of way,” Oakley told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday night. “The NBA has got to take a look at this. You can’t keep closing your eyes to this. This is like, turn your head if you see someone beat somebody up and you just keep walking.”
Longtime Knicks fan Spike Lee told ESPN on Tuesday that he wouldn’t attend another home game this season following a confrontation with security Monday over which entrance he could use at Madison Square Garden.
“It just keeps happening in New York,” Oakley said. “People are not going to come here because it’s the same thing over and over and over. They got a new president, and all everyone is talking about what happened between Spike Lee and the Garden.”
The incident occurred on the first night on the job for Leon Rose, the longtime player agent who was hired Monday as team president.
Oakley also addressed Lee’s altercation with ESPN’s Golic and Wingo on Wednesday, saying Knicks owner James Dolan is the consistent problem.
“What is this man’s problem about control? He’s so much a control freak. And he’s hurting the whole NBA,” Oakley said. “If I’m an owner in the NBA, this guy headlines every other month, every other week, with something that don’t have nothing to do with winning. It’s got to do with individuals, people’s life. We shouldn’t be going through this.”
Oakley, 57, had a spat with the Knicks in 2017, when he was arrested after an altercation with security officials. Oakley sued Dolan and Madison Square Garden, but the case was dismissed last month.
MSG called for “peace between us” when a federal judge dismissed Oakley’s claim, though Oakley said he will appeal.
“There should have been peace anyway,” Oakley told the AP. “I played there 10 years. Show me some respect. They keep disrespecting me. I feel sorry for the people who stuff keeps happening to. It’s just not right.”
Judge Richard J. Sullivan ruled last month in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that the case “had the feel of a public relations campaign” and Oakley hadn’t alleged a plausible legal claim under federal pleading standards.
Oakley had alleged assault, battery and false imprisonment, along with defamation after Dolan and the Knicks implied he had a problem with alcohol. Oakley was sitting near Dolan at a game on Feb. 8, 2017, when Oakley was approached by security soon after arriving and began to scuffle with them before he was removed from his seat and arrested.
“I didn’t do nothing,” Oakley said. “I got drug out and talked about like I was a person laying in the street.”
The Knicks’ latest case happened Monday night when a video circulated online during New York’s 125-123 victory over the Houston Rockets, showing Lee getting frustrated and yelling at Garden security outside an elevator, leading to confusion that he may have been thrown out of the building. However, a Knicks spokesman said that was untrue and that it was simply an issue of Lee using the wrong entrance.
Lee said he has been using the employee entrance on 33rd Street for more than two decades as a season-ticket holder. The Knicks wanted him to use the entrance for celebrities, which is two blocks away.
Oakley said he wasn’t surprised at Lee’s treatment.
“It’s a plantation over there. It’s bad,” Oakley told Golic and Wingo. “People don’t want to talk about it. It’s real bad over there.
“I mean, this man’s been buying tickets for 28 years, over $10 million, and you curse him out if he comes in this door or that door?”
The Knicks are 19-42 and headed toward their seventh straight season out of the playoffs.
“I ain’t ever seen a team lose make this much news,” Oakley told the AP. “Maybe the Dallas Cowboys.”
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