LeBron James and other NBA players are standing up in support of Charles Oakley after the former Knicks great got into an altercation with Madison Square Garden security.
LeBron James and other NBA players are standing up in support of Charles Oakley after the former Knicks great got into an altercation with Madison Square Garden security on Wednesday night.
There have been varying accounts of what happened as Oakley was removed by arena security from a seat on the baseline not far from where owner James Dolan was sitting. Oakley has claimed he did nothing wrong, other accounts suggest he was heckling the oft-maligned Knicks owner. Oakley’s relationship with the organization post-playing days has been frosty and well-publicized: he is never recognized or invited to events by the team, as many other former players are.
Oakley was arrested and taken to jail after his removal from the arena, and booked on third degree assault charges. He says he purchased the seat himself.
The Knicks doubled down on their version of events with a statement on Thursday.
The NBA community has largely been outspoken in support of Oakley in the aftermath of the incident, beginning with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul.
James posted a photo of Oakley on Instagram Wednesday night in apparent solidarity, and in his press conference following Cleveland’s loss to Oklahoma City on Thursday, ended his brief comments by stating: “Charles Oakley for President.”
LeBron James makes opening statement postgame in OKC, doesn't take a question, then says "One final thing: Charles Oakley for president."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 10, 2017
Wade followed suit on Instagram and was more outspoken with his caption choice:
“10years!!! 10 years Oak gave everything he had for this organization and the image everyone will be left with won't be this picture. It will be the imagine of him being taken down to the ground last night in the same arena he gave his all 2 as a player by the guards! This Could happen to any of us!!! #StayWoke We are not above this treatment!”
Paul, who is the president of the Players Association, did the same and made reference to the Knicks’ initial statement, which stated that they “hope he gets help soon.”
And also chiming in on Thursday was Pacers great, TNT announcer and longtime on-court Knicks antagonist Reggie Miller.
If you're a FA to be, why would you play for an Owner who treats the past greats like this or a President who stabs star player in the back?— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) February 9, 2017
The Knicks have been embroiled in what feels like constant controversy over the past couple of months, with Carmelo Anthony trade rumors and his relationship with president Phil Jackson at the center of it. It’s believed the Knicks are ready to deal Anthony and rebuild, but Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract and has not asked to be dealt. Oakley’s situation is the latest bump in the road for the franchise.
- Jeremy Woo