By Matthew Bagdat
Sports Business Editor
The New York Knicks entered the 2016-17 season with expectations of competing for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. With the growth of Kristaps Porzingis and the addition of players such as Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Joakim Noah to take some of the pressure off of Carmelo Anthony, the roster looked to have been improved. Sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference, the season has not gone as expected, and fans have grown increasingly frustrated with the team.
On Wednesday February 8th, an already ugly season turned even worse for the franchise. Former Knicks legend Charles Oakley was involved in a physical altercation in the first quarter of the game between the Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, according to Fox Sports.
The former Knick has notoriously had disagreements with team owner James Dolan, and on Wednesday things became even more intensified, as Oakley had to be removed in handcuffs by security.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported that Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, “went to calm down an emotional Oakley who was in cuffs and shouting things about Dolan, according to witnesses.”
The NYPD investigated the situation and charged Oakley with three counts of assault in his altercation with security, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. The situation led Dolan to banning Oakley for life from Madison Square Garden. There was uproar around the league after the incident with players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade taking the side of the former Knick.
On Tuesday, Dolan lifted the ban, however it does not appear that Oakley has any intention of returning to the Garden any time soon.
“I have never asked for nothing. I love the fans in New York. They’ve been supportive. One of the things I told the commissioner, I want to have a press conference and I want him to apologize to me and the fans. They’ve had my back and they’ve felt the pain. I really appreciate the people all around who’ve had my back,” Oakley told ESPN.
The situation is certainly an interesting one. With the team struggling the way it is, the Knicks need as little distractions as possible in order to compete for a playoff berth. The saga between James Dolan and Charles Oakley is certainly not doing the New York Knicks any favors. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 print edition.
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