The scene at Madison Square Garden Wednesday should never be forgotten.
Charles Oakley, a fan favorite in New York for diving on the floor for loose balls, was turned into a million-dollar mop on that same floor.
Knicks’ owner James Dolan is to blame. Block out all the other noise. He ordered his henchmen to harass and embarrass Oakley – on national TV, no less. Dolan wanted Oakley thrown out of MSG, like a vile, stinking bum who snuck in and had no business being there.
This wasn’t about just Oakley. It was a total disrespect to all players in the NBA. Yes, it’s Dolan’s team and arena. By law, he can do whatever he wants. But it doesn’t mean players – especially black players – in the league have to accept it.
Former, current and future players should make Dolan pay for his horrible actions. Players should refuse to play there, play for that man.
If he can do that to Oakley, humiliate a proud man who gave his all for the fans of New York and that once-storied franchise, he can do it to any other player that puts on a Knicks’ uniform.
Sure, the players under contract can’t do much, they are stuck.
But free agents, players who can control their trade destination should REFUSE to work for that man.
And before you think it’s farfetched, look at how former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was jettisoned from ownership in the NBA.
The players told NBA commissioner Adam Silver that Sterling’s racist tapes wouldn’t be acceptable and forced the commissioner’s hand – forcing Sterling to sell and banishment from the league.
And before you say, this is a he-said, he-said case with conflicting stories to know for sure what went down between Oakley and Dolan, you have to take into account Dolans prior actions.
In celebrating the Knicks’ 70th anniversary, Dolan has excluded Oakley, the heart-and-soul of the Knicks from 1988-1998, from all team events.
And why? For Oakley’s honest comments about the plight of his former team. It’s a no-no in Dolan’s world. He has crossed others before. There’s a pattern.
There was former guard Stephon Marbury, legendary broadcaster Marv Albert and Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. They also got the disrespect card on their way out of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
It’s a shame, a disgrace.
No former player, no matter the beef, should ever have been treated like that. There had to be a better way to resolve the matter than to send eight security guards to Oakley’s seat – a seat he paid for with his own money.
Dolan wanted an incident, a show of force.
It was as if Dolan wanted to send a message to all players: this is mine and y’all don’t matter, no matter what you have accomplished in the past.
As if the scene alone wasn’t bad, Dolan had the nerve to then go on a character assassination mission.
First, the Knicks released a statement saying Oakley had some kind of problem and needed to get help.
Dolan then went on the radio in NYC and basically said the same without any proof. It’s just plain wrong.
Dolan can think it was just Oakley who felt his wrath. Not true. There’s no way that any NBA player – past or future – didn’t look at that scene and think to themselves that it couldn’t have been them.
The imagery was ruthless and dirty. It was sick. An educated black man in a suit who worked so hard and gave so much to accomplish the max in a stellar career was reduced to a rag doll.
Sure, players tweeted about it and commented on the scene of it. It was largely support for Oakley. Still, no one took Dolan to task.
Dolan should have been informed that if you do that to one of us, you do it to all of us.
So far, Silver – who was in attendance to watch the madness in person – hasn’t done anything. It’s unfortunate. This commissioner has been about action in the case of wrongdoing – even moving the upcoming All-Star game from North Carolina due to that state’s “Bathroom Bill.”
It wasn’t a proud moment for the league under his watch.
The fans won’t do anything about Dolan. They keep lining this dude’s pockets for a half-baked product. The Knicks are like crack. Fans keep getting it even though they know they are bad.
Dolan must be stopped. The players can do it.