At first it was easy to view Charles Oakley as the hero of the story, even though he handled his 2017 ejection from Madison Square Garden like the enforcer he once was for the Knicks, but Oak has now taken multiple unnecessary potshots at Patrick Ewing, which cannot stand.
This is a bittersweet blog, because Oakley and Ewing used to stand as faces of the franchise; Ewing was the superstar, Oakley did the dirty work, and together they made the playoffs 10 straight seasons. Over 727 games with the Knicks, Oakley averaged a double-double (10.4 points, 10 rebounds), and was quite possibly the most consistent partner Ewing ever got to play with. Though their one Finals appearance resulted in a heartbreaking seven-game defeat, both Ewing and Oakley performed admirably, with respective per game averages of 19 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks and 11 points and 12 boards.
Despite their history as two of the fiercest competitors New York has ever seen, Oakley has recently turned his dismay with the Dolan situation towards Ewing. Oak has offered multiple blasphemous attacks on Ewing, but let’s begin with the freshest wound.
In a new interview with CBS Sports radio host Damon Amendolara, Oakley called Ewing “high-maintenance,” said he wasn’t a strong leader, and ludicrously lamented that the Big Fella held the Knicks back during the 1990s.
Oakley says the ‘90s Knicks were held back by Ewing’s leadership style. “He never put us on his back like he should have because every adversity he ducked away from.” pic.twitter.com/9ARQrUMb9P— Damon Amendolara (@DAonCBS) April 13, 2020
Held the Knicks back?! After two seasons of playoffless basketball upon his selection as the first pick of the 1985 draft, the Knicks proceeded to reach the postseason 13 consecutive times with Ewing on the squad. An 11-time All-Star, Ewing made the All-NBA First Team once and was selected to the All-NBA Second Team six times. He was among the top five MVP vote getters six times, and was in the top 10 for Defensive Player of the Year voting five times. For his career, Ewing put up roughly 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game, and he averaged 20 or more points 13 straight times with the Knicks, including individual seasons of 28.6 and 26.6.
Was Ewing a perfect teammate? Perhaps not, and Oakley would have better insight than a random blogger who was only 10-years-old when the Knicks traded Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics. But still, the ire is uncalled for, and it’s not totally clear why Oakley has decided that he should belittle Ewing’s career.
It’s obvious Oakley was upset that Ewing never came out and delivered a full-throated backing of his former teammate after the 2017 fiasco with Dolan, but as recently as September 2018 the two were reciprocating respect for one another on social media.
Never felt right either. You always had my back, Oak. https://t.co/whEZVfwJuW— Patrick Ewing (@CoachEwing33) September 27, 2018
The respect was short lived, however, and before long Oakley was back to dragging Ewing through the mud for some reason. This past March, Oakley checked in with Knicks Fan TV, used the “high maintenance” line, and said that Ewing was “one of the most difficult guys I ever played with.”
Here's the full convo with us and Charles Oakley on how he felt about Patrick Ewing. Catch the entire interview via the links below #knicks:— Knicks Fan TV (@KnicksFanTv) March 14, 2020
ITUNES: https://t.co/SxI0KXCMrg pic.twitter.com/4s3bzOEMZW
Oakley clearly believes Ewing should publicly proclaim that the Knicks treated him wrong when security guards dragged him out of MSG during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2017. And until that happens, Oak seems resolute in his decision to talk smack about the best player in franchise history.
Ewing, on the other hand, is seeking to stay above the fracas. A few weeks after that March interview with Oakley, Ewing was asked about Oak’s comments during an interview on ESPN Radio’s Bart and Hahn show. Ewing’s reaction was, to put it simply, perfect. He said he hadn’t heard Oakley’s comments and showered the power forward with praise, calling Oak one of the best teammates he ever had.
The Knicks still haven’t figured out a way to repair the relationship with Oakley, even though it might be as easy as Dolan offering a personal apology for having him viciously booted from the Garden instead of refusing to admit that errors might have been made on both sides.
Still, while it’s fine for Oakley to criticize ownership, he’s wrong in insinuating that Ewing was overrated, and his continued remarks about Ewing’s deficiencies will only serve to push fans further from his side. Maybe that’s fine with Oakley, who doesn’t seem to care all that much about the Knicks anymore because of the team’s current ownership. But it’s sad that fans are being forced to pick sides when it comes to Oakley and Ewing, rather than fondly remembering them as one of the toughest twosomes the NBA has ever known.