If you didn’t know, New York Knicks‘ legend Charles Oakley got into an altercation at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, and James Dolan just made it much worse.
The short-winded version of what happened during the Knicks last game is rather linear. Oakley shows up to the game — as a paying customer — and is confronted by six security guards before being dragged into the tunnel, handcuffed by NYPD and charged with three counts of assault.
It’s important to note that it’s not entirely clear who started it, but that’s irrelevant at this point. Essentially, it’s he said, she said.
Friday, Knicks owner James Dolan went out into the public eye to hopefully diffuse the situation, but it’s very hard to put out a fire with lighter fluid.
Dolan came out and said that Oakley would be banned for life, not the ideal punishment because forcing him to suffer through Knicks’ game would’ve been much worse. He later retracted that statement, saying the ban is “not necessarily a lifetime ban.” It gets better — Dolan prefaced his “ban” of Oakley by saying “he might have an alcohol problem, we don’t know.”
There’s nothing morally satisfying about calling out an alcohol addiction if Oakley has one, and Dolan and the Knicks should’ve reached out to him privately to help him get help if that’s the case. Dolan is also a recovering alcoholic.
Just like a Billy Mays commercial, there’s more! Dolan sort of threw Phil Jackson under the bus, but the Knicks’ fanbase also hates him. According to the owner himself, Knicks fans need to “ask Phil” why New York isn’t winning, since Dolan gave the Zen Master total control of basketball operations and the team is 22-32 this year heading into Friday night’s contest. If your team sucks, just be accountable.
The situation is just a total mess. What transpired on Wednesday wasn’t a good look for Charles Oakley, James Dolan, the Knicks, Madison Square Garden or the NBA, but this feeble attempt to rectify the situation has wholly overshadowed what started it all.
If I were in Dolan’s position (and I certainly hope I never have to be), my answers would be simple and revolve around the thesis of working with Oakley to sort out any issues. Of course, that’s not the easiest thing for Dolan to do because he’s not well liked by the former All-Star, who’s loved by every Knicks fan who was able to watch him play during the mid-90s.
Regardless of who was wrong in this ordeal, it was Dolan’s job to stop this from spiraling out of hand, even if it meant that he looks like the wrong party. He’s the owner of the franchise but also the owner of Madison Square Garden, and this incident is tarnishing to everyone involved. Sales will inevitably suffer, and the Knicks will be hard-pressed to find free agents who want to play for this kind of ownership.
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