In the wake of the incident at Madison Square Garden earlier this week, the Knicks have banned Charles Oakley from attending games at the arena, team owner James Dolan said today. Michael Kay first reported word of the ban (Twitter link), with Dolan confirming it in an appearance on Kay’s show this afternoon.
According to Dolan, it won’t necessarily be a “lifetime ban” for Oakley (Twitter link via Marc Berman of The New York Post). However, while the Knicks owner is concerned about fan backlash, he says his priority is maintaining a safe environment, adding that Oakley was abusive and vulgar and came to the Garden on Wednesday with an agenda (Twitter links via Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News).
Since Wednesday’s incident, the Knicks have issued multiple statements explaining why Oakley was ejected from the stadium and arrested. The team also shot down Oakley’s account, in which the former NBA big man insisted that he wasn’t the instigator in the situation. The Knicks continued the PR assault on Oakley today, publicly releasing more than a dozen first-hand statements from MSG staff on the incident (Twitter links via Ryan Field of WABC).
At Hoops Rumors, we typically focus on stories that relate to trades, free agency, and other forms of roster moves and player movement. So what does this story have to do with that? Well, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets, the Knicks are becoming a “toxic” destination for free agents based on this incident and Phil Jackson‘s behavior toward Carmelo Anthony. According to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (Twitter link), the Knicks have “enraged” people around the league in the last 48 hours with their handling of the Oakley situation.
Dolan may have intended to explain his side of the story with today’s radio appearance, but he only made matters worse when he told Kay that Oakley has anger problems and that he “may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know” (Twitter link via Bontemps). With Dolan making unfounded claims about a former Knicks star and Jackson repeatedly criticizing a current Knicks star, it’s hard to imagine many players around the NBA viewing the team as an appealing franchise to join.
The Knicks owner also said today that he won’t meddle in basketball decisions and that he doesn’t intend to exercise the club’s 2017 opt-out on Jackson’s contract (Twitter link via Bontemps). So barring a surprise, the duo doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.