clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

James Dolan “not necessarily” bans Charles Oakley from MSG for life

Uh, OK.

Sacramento Kings v New York Knicks Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

James Dolan spoke to Michael Kay and Don Le Greca about the Charles Oakley incident and other issues revolving around the Knicks. The low point was pretty much everything he said about the Oakley incident — this isn’t a PR battle he can win, and publicly speculating about people’s potential personal problems is never a good look. The (relative) high point was what he mostly didn’t have to say about the state of the team today — it sounds like the current mess right not be Dolan’s mess, just Phil Jackson’s! Huzzah!

As we learned when Dolan read from note cards when meeting with LeBron James in 2010, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Regarding the Garden banning Oakley for life:

Wise man. Never give them the rope to hang you with.

Regarding what went down Wednesday night:

“It’s very clear to us that Charles Oakley came to the Garden with an agenda, with a mission in mind. Abusive behavior. Disrespectful behavior.”

“I don’t really know for sure. I’m not inside of Charles Oakley’s mind. He did say a bunch of things along the way that looked like he was headed in my direction. I didn’t hear them myself, but we heard from my employees...that he was using my name a lot. But [the ban] isn’t because I’m nervous. It’s because you can’t do what he did and stay.”

“There were security people who were abused. There were service people who were abused...and abused in a really horrible, angry, nasty way.”

“This is not just a day-before-yesterday incident. We’ve had a relationship with Charles since he retired and left the Knicks. Every time we have tried to patch things up with him, mend things with him, invite him to games, every time it ends up the same way. Abusive. Disrespectful. We eventually gave up. We stopped trying to reach out for him.”

You can’t spell “cognitive dissonance” without “diss.”

Regarding Oakley’s version of events:

“It’s unbelievable. I can’t explain why...we have videotape, dozens of statements, etc. This is very, very accurate. So, I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe he doesn’t remember it...Charles has got a problem. We’ve said it before. He’s his own worst problem. He has a problem. People need to sort of understand that. He has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol - we don’t know...Those are personality problems.”

Regarding taking an unpopular position against a Knick legend:

“We need to keep the Garden a place that’s comfortable and safe for everybody that goes there...There was a time way back when, before we took over, where the Garden was a was not uncommon to see fights and extremely rowdy behavior. We put an end to that. We’re not ever gonna go back to that. It’s always gonna be a place you can bring your kids, you can bring your family, you’re gonna be safe, and no one is going to disparage you or treat you like that.”

Regarding MSG security’s response to Oakley:

“We weren’t perfect here. And I think that Charles never should have made it to his seats. And that’s on us.”

Regarding whether this morning’s firing of the VP of Garden security was related to the Oakley incident:

“That was...a situation where the person didn’t work out, and this was the last straw.”

Regarding public opinion being so supportive of Oakley:

“[Fans] think, at times, our team hasn’t had what Charles had.” Like a lifetime ban, word.

Regarding whether he’s afraid of Oakley coming after him:

“No. I don’t think so. Although he’s been quoted saying things like he’d poison my food. I don’t think he’s serious about that stuff. When anybody famous comes to the Garden...there’s always a heightened security presence around that person. One time Messier and I were in an elevator. And I said ‘Let’s stop and get a hot dog...’ That was a huge mistake.”

Regarding whether it was embarrassing to have the incident occur during a nationally televised game:

“I didn’t realize it was on national television.”

Regarding his public suggestions of Oakley having personal problems:

“Look, we were trying to be kind. It obviously didn’t come off that way. But I do think Charles needs help. He can’t want to have the things that have happened to him - particularly since he retired as a player. They aren’t good. He’s had many physical altercations. He’s been arrested. He’s had a lot of trouble. And it all seems to stem from his anger. That can’t be something he intended to have happen. Maybe he doesn’t remember. I think he’s somewhat in denial.”

Regarding the possibility of he and Oakley coming together in the future:

“There’s nothing that would make me happier than to see Charles Oakley, right, be at center court, right, being honored along with the rest of his teammates and my shaking his hand, etc. And all we really need for that to happen is for Charles, right, to address these behaviors. Right?...but this behavior doesn’t work with that.”

Regarding players defending Oakley and how this affects the Knicks in free agency:

“Well, I mean, look. The first thing is always going to be about the fans, about the Garden being safe and inviting and comfortable. That we’re not willing to move on. At all. Other players being supportive of other players is totally understandable. And the transition from being an active player to a retired player is difficult. At the same time, I would point out to every single one of them: you look at the Rangers’ and Knicks’ alumni. We have great relationships with all of our alumni. This is an anomaly. You’re not gonna find ten guys out there who are saying ‘The Knicks didn’t treat me well...’ There might be one, maybe two at the most who are unhappy, out of hundreds. Go ask any of them about how they feel...I think you'll hear nothing but positive stuff.”

Others feel differently.

Regarding Knick fans viewing Dolan as “the evil one”:

“You'd be hard-pressed to find a living NY team owner that the fans like. You sort of know when you come into it you’re not going to be the most loved individual. You hear that from some fans. But I hear from plenty of fans that they appreciate that we take the investment into the team to the max that we can take it; that we do everything we can to make the game experience as great of a game experience, even when we lose, for our fans. We spent $1B renovating MSG. So, I mean, you know, I don’t believe it’s everybody that feels that way. But I do believe that there’s a malcontent group that’s always very vocal. I think they’ll always be there.”

Regarding the direction of the franchise:

“Three years ago, I signed a contract with Phil Jackson, the man who has more championship rings, as far as I know, than anybody else. He was the best guy we thought we could find to run the New York Knicks. And I made an agreement with him. And the agreement didn’t say, ‘You have to have this amount of wins by this time’ or anything of the sort like that. I literally turned over the entire basketball operations over to Phil and to Steve [Mills], and that’s is where I'm at. Whether I like the results or don’t like the results, I am going to honor that agreement, all the way to the end. It’s not over yet. My hope is that the team will become much, much better, and that Phil will be successful. He has my support and any of the resources he needs to do it. I recognize that some 3+ years ago...running a basketball operation...this is not my skill set. The best thing I could do was find the best guy. A lot of people said ‘You won’t be able to stay away; you’ll meddle.’ I think everybody recognizes now that I have stayed away. I have let Phil absolutely run the franchise. And I intend to do that for the length of the agreement.”

In that vein:

Dolan admitted, I think for the first time, that he made the 2011 Carmelo Anthony trade happen:

Regarding the team holding an opt-out on Phil Jackson’s contract this summer:

“I am not going to exercise any opt-outs. I’m going to honor that agreement for the full agreement.”

Regarding Oakley chants at the Ranger game and possibly tonight at the Knick game:

“I certainly noticed it. On one hand, I understand it. He was a great Knick player. I’d like to be chanting ‘Charles Oakley.’ I wish I could be. But for instance, tonight, at the game, we’ll probably hear chants tonight. But I would like those same people to look around. And look at the people working at Madison Square Garden. And understand that the person they’re chanting for may have been a great Knick player, but he was terribly abusive to those same people that were there to help him. And when they do that, in some way they’re saying ‘As good as you are to me, it doesn’t matter to me.’”

Regarding all the Knicks’ losing and what the message is for fans:

“Ask Phil.”