Just when you thought this season couldn’t get any worse for the Knicks (22-32), Charles Oakley happened. The former Knick was handcuffed and arrested at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, this after a verbal altercation with James Dolan turned violent.
“It’s just surreal,” The Bergen Record Knicks reporter Steve Popper said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Every day you think you hit a low and this is rock bottom, and hey look, there’s a new bottom a couple feet lower.”
Oakley and Dolan have feuded for years, and Dolan didn’t back down Thursday, calling Oakley a liar.
What does that accomplish for Dolan? Especially since Knicks fans, by and large, view Oakley as the hero and Dolan as the villain?
“That’s the funny thing about (this), and this is the way they operate all the time,” Popper said. “When Oakley is being dragged off, no one’s chanting ‘Do-lan! Do-lan!’ They’re chanting, ‘Oak-ley! Oakley! Oak-ley!’ They love him there. Since he played there, he’s a beloved figure there. I don’t know what the sense of it is, other than James Dolan is a stubborn, vindictive guy.”
Oakley, to be fair, never should have put his hands on the Knicks’ security staff.
“I’m never going to excuse what Charles Oakley did there,” Popper said. “Those security guards, he knows half of them. They’ve been there for decades. You just can’t do that. You can’t push the guy. You can’t shove him. The Knicks are saying it was a punch. I don’t think it was. Whatever it was, you can’t do that. But it never had to get here.”
Oakley, 53, played for New York from 1988-98. He has been highly critical of Dolan in recent years. Then again, a lot of people have.
“Charles Oakley has been trying to mend fences here for a while, trying to bring himself back into the family there – not for Dolan, but for the fan base, for himself, to be a part of something that he was a part of for 10 years,” Popper said. “They have resisted that, and this is how we get to where we are today. If you believe Oakley’s version of the story, he didn’t do anything other than take a seat a couple rows back. Maybe that looks harsh. Maybe that looks like he was up to something. But whatever it was, these are grown-ups and this is basketball. It’s just silly. I don’t know why they can’t eve rise above, but they don’t, and that’s how they wind up where they are.”