Charles Oakley arrested at Knicks game after altercation with arena security

Former Knicks star Charles Oakley was dragged from his courtside seat at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and arrested during a game between New York and the Los Angeles Clippers. The burly ex-forward had reportedly gotten into a verbal altercation with Knicks owner James Dolan before engaging physically with members of the arena’s security staff.

Shortly after the altercation, which occurred in the first quarter of a contest nationally televised on ESPN, the Knicks issued this statement: “Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner. He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department.

“He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon.”

Shortly after the altercation, which occurred in the first quarter of a contest nationally televised on ESPN, the Knicks issued this statement: “Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner. He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department.

“He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon.”

“I didn’t say anything to [Dolan],” Oakley told the New York Daily News, after being released from a Manhattan police station late Wednesday evening. “I swear on my mother. They came over and wanted to know why I was sitting there. I bought the ticket. I said why do you guys keep staring at me. Then they asked me to leave. And I said I’m not leaving.”

Oakley, who played for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998 and was selected for the 1994 All-Star Game, became a fan favorite at the Garden while developing a reputation as one of the NBA’s toughest players. However, he has been in something of an exile from the organization, an awkward situation Oakley has blamed on Dolan.

“The boss don’t like me,” Oakley told the New York Times in October. He went on to say of Dolan, “I mean, I had at least 15 people try to set up a meeting. He won’t meet. I want to sit down to talk to him. I want me and him in a room. And lock the door. Lock that door!”

Oakley added, “I mean, he can have the police outside the door.”

“As hard as I played for that motherf—–, and he don’t want to talk with me?” Oakley exclaimed about Dolan in 2015 (via the New York Daily News). “Everybody in New York liked me except this one guy. . . . He’s a bad guy.”

The incident Wednesday just adds to the turmoil surrounding the Knicks, who have plummeted to 22-31 (going into the game against Clippers) amid an all-too-public feud between Jackson and his star player, Carmelo Anthony. The team president is making little secret of his desire to trade Anthony, who has a clause in his contract giving him veto power over any proposed move.

With Oakley intimidating opponents alongside Patrick Ewing, the Knicks made the playoffs every season he was with the team (he also played for the Bulls, Raptors, Wizards and Rockets in a 19-year career). However, New York has reached the postseason just four times since 2002 — Dolan took control of the team in 1999 — and has gotten as far as the second round once in that span.

The ugly scene at MSG came one year to the day after the Knicks fired head coach Derek Fisher, brought in the season before with no previous experience at the job and handed a talent-deficient squad with a mandate to run Jackson’s favored triangle offense. On Feb. 8, 2015, reports emerged of Dolan’s response to a letter he had received from an elderly fan lamenting the team’s direction. Dolan called the fan “a sad person,” “a hateful mess” and likely an “[a]lcoholic” before telling the man to “start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks don’t want you.”

Charles Oakley exchanges words with a security guard at Madison Square Garden. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)


Charles Oakley arrested at Madison Square Garden for altercation with security guard

Former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley shoved a Madison Square Garden security guard and was arrested before being escorted out of the building. He will be charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault for hitting security guards and criminal trespassing, according to the NYPD.

The incident took place in the second row of seating during the first quarter of the game. Oakley was reportedly yelling at James Dolan and was told to stop, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. He continued and was asked to leave.

“Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner,” the Knicks said in a statement. “He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department. He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help.”

According to Mike Vorkunov, Oakley was handcuffed and said, “"I didn't do nothing! [Knicks owner James] Dolan did this...This is bullshit*t."

Play was halted as Oakley exited the arena and the crowd started chanting "Oakley! Oakley!" Knicks President Phil Jackson met Oakley in the tunnel and tried to calm him down, according to ESPN's Ian Begley.

Spencer Checketts, son of former Knicks president Dave Checketts who was fired by James Dolan, tweeted that his father was attempting to bail Oakley out of jail.

Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998. The Knicks are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the franchise and Oakley has been upset that he has not been invited to several events, according to Isola.


Charles Oakley Is Arrested After Altercation at Knicks Loss

When Jeff Hornacek took the job as the Knicks coach last May, he did so with eyes wide open. He was not oblivious to the dysfunction that has been a part of the organization for years. He expected some controversy or another with the Knicks.

Roughly nine months into his tenure, the team has not fallen short of Hornacek’s expectations.

“It’s lived up to the billing,” he said Wednesday before the Knicks fell, 119-115, to the Los Angeles Clippers. “It’s been something out here.”

But even Hornacek could not have expected that the game that night would dissolve into a full-fledged circus. While a feud continues to stew between the Knicks president Phil Jackson and the team’s top star, Carmelo Anthony, amid on-court struggles, their game ceded the spotlight Wednesday night to a courtside fracas.

Charles Oakley, the voluble but beloved former Knicks stalwart, was arrested after getting into an altercation with security guards midway through the first quarter. Oakley was removed from Madison Square Garden and handcuffed.

Oakley was sitting courtside, in an aisle seat in the first row of the section near the Knicks’ bench. According to spectators seated nearby, he had been calm early in the game. He took a photograph with Felice Bergman, a fan with season tickets several rows higher.

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James L. Dolan, the Knicks’ owner, with whom Oakley has a contentious relationship, sat nearby, but several spectators said they did not see Oakley exchange any words with Dolan or try to provoke him.

But they did see Oakley exchanging glances with a security guard who was standing several feet away. Oakley seemed to utter something to the guard when he walked by, according to T. J. Veenstra, who was sitting behind Oakley.

A guard soon came over to Oakley and asked him to leave. Oakley asked why.

“He just couldn’t understand why,” said Matthew Barbara, who sat a few rows up from Oakley. “We didn’t see him throw a punch or do anything. He wasn’t nasty to any of the people behind him. We’re trying to figure out what happened.”

Oakley was soon surrounded by a phalanx of guards, as John McEnroe, the former tennis champion, stood behind them on the court watching. As they tried to remove Oakley, he pushed one guard twice before being restrained and taken away. The game, which was still in its early stages, stopped as players from both teams watched the commotion. As he was being led out, the crowd chanted: “Oakley! Oakley!”

Knicks guard Derrick Rose later said: “That was the weirdest. I didn’t know what was going on.”

The police said Oakley had been charged with three counts of third-degree assault and one count of criminal trespass, all misdemeanors. He was released with an appearance ticket.

The Knicks, in a statement, said Oakley had behaved in a “highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner.”

But fans sitting nearby said they did not feel that was the case.

“Nothing he did rose to the level of what happened,” Jamie Vitiello said. “They overacted.”

The episode was a distraction from another Knicks quarrel. The previous day, Jackson had posted a message on Twitter that seemed to endorse a Bleacher Report story painting Anthony as a star who did not have a sufficient will to win and who was more interested in building his brand and his own statistics. It was another shot in a feud between Jackson and Anthony that has persisted all season.

After the game, Anthony was asked if he still trusted Jackson.

“I did say that,” Anthony said, adding: “I trust the process.”

Anthony and Jackson have met twice to calm the waters. In December, Jackson said Anthony was a ball-stopper on offense. In January, Charley Rosen, a longtime confidante of Jackson’s, wrote a column on FanRag Sports that said Anthony had “outlived his usefulness in New York.”

And for the last several weeks, Anthony has heard his name in trade rumors as the Knicks have reportedly tried to trade him, to teams including the Clippers. Anthony, however, has a no-trade clause in his contract and has not indicated that he wants to leave the organization.

Jackson, however, did try to play peacekeeper in the Knicks’ other contentious situation on Wednesday. After Oakley was taken away from his seat, Jackson rushed out to the tunnel to try to calm him. But Oakley continued to fume as he stood outside the court with his hands in cuffs and guards surrounding him.

“I didn’t do nothing,” he said, mixing in expletives. He said Dolan was responsible — although he did not say for what.

Oakley has had a conflicted relationship with the Knicks. He was a fan favorite during his 10 seasons with the team. He was known for his rugged and physical style and helped take them to the 1994 N.B.A. Finals. Yet, he has been exiled over the last few years after a falling out with the organization. While many of his former teammates returned to Madison Square Garden, Oakley had not.

“The boss don’t like me,” Oakley told The New York Times last fall. He said he has tried to meet with Dolan but has been rebuffed.

“I mean, I had at least 15 people try to set up a meeting,” Oakley said. “He won’t meet. I want to sit down to talk to him. I want me and him in a room. And lock the door. Lock that door!”

On Wednesday, however, they shared an arena — one that had once been the setting for Oakley’s glory days. When he was eclipsed by security guards, Doc Rivers, the Clippers coach and a former teammate, immediately recognized him at the center.

“That was tough to watch,” Rivers said.

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