Last February Knicks fans were stunned when their beloved former power forward, Charles Oakley, was forcibly removed from his court side seat at the Garden during a nationally televised game against the Clippers.
Oakley was arrested after the incident.
Seeing Oak, who captured the hearts of Knicks’ fans for his leadership, hard work, toughness and personality, being mistreated by security after giving his all to the city enraged fans who took to social media to blast the Garden and their staff, with some special hate for Garden boss James Dolan who sat less than 10 feet away as Oak was surrounded and did nothing to intervene.
Today, more than a year later, it looks like we might have learned why.
A new video (which you can view on The Daily News here) of the melee shows, according to Oakley’s lawyer Douglas Wigdor, Dolan speaking with security after which they surrounded the former Knick and aggressively ejected him from his seat. He even, claims Wigdor in new papers filed Thursday, gave the security team a “thumbs up” gesture after Oak was removed.
According to The Daily News, papers submitted by Wigdor stated “From the moment he takes his seat Mr. Oakley can be seen laughing and casually interacting with fans. Nowhere is there evidence that he was acting as belligerently as (Dolan and MSG) falsely claim.”
“During a stoppage in play, Defendant Dolan can be seen summoning a security guard and speaking to him at length. … Within seconds of Defendant Dolan’s gesture, the security guard gathered other security personnel who proceeded to surround Mr. Oakley and throw him out of the Arena.”
“When the guards were finished assaulting Mr. Oakley and violently ejecting him from MSG, Defendant Dolan can be seen giving a thumbs up to the security guards.” read the papers.
Oakley has maintained that he never got up from his seat before security came over and physically escorted him out, and this video supports that claim.
While you can’t hear if Oakley said anything to provoke the situation, it is clear that this new video gives everyone a new perspective on the situation, which is what Oakley and Wigdor want everyone to see for themselves as they pursue the case in Manhattan Federal Court.
Said Wigdor in a statement – “Our legal papers filed today make clear that this matter should be resolved by a jury while also shining a light on Dolan’s conduct that precipitated an event that could easily have been avoided if he had not signaled to his security team to remove Mr. Oakley for no legitimate reason and gleefully give a thumbs up after Mr. Oakley had been assaulted.”
The aftermath of that altercation was ugly, as Oakley was accused of being drunk and abusive by Dolan on the Michael Kay Show and that he was being banned from the Garden for life.
People need to sort of understand that, that he has a problem with anger. Hes both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol, we dont know, but those behaviors, being physically and verbally abusive, those are personality problems.
After others got involved, including Commissioner Silver and Michael Jordan, things simmered down a little and the two sides spoke, resulting in the ban being lifted. But despite the two sides talking, it was obvious that Oakley was hurt and embarrassed, and rightfully so. He had been targeted and assaulted on national TV and then arrested for assault, a charge later dropped that August as part of a deal which required that he stay out of trouble for six months and refrain from going to the Garden for a year. He responded by filing a defamation and discrimination suit that September seeking unspecified damages.
“I have never asked for nothing,” said Oakley. “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.”
While this new video, fans and potential jurors have the ability to see another side of the story, one that MSG brass would prefer remain hidden. But with the way fans feel about Oakley, and the detest they have for Dolan, you know Knicks fans are ecstatic at having it surface.