NBA Rumor: Charles Oakley Incident

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Charles Oakley wants James Dolan named in assault suit

Former New York Knick Charles Oakley alleges in court papers that James Dolan orchestrated his violent eviction from Madison Square Garden in 2017, and he wants to add the team owner as a defendant to his assault and battery lawsuit against the arena and entertainment company. That is a new twist to the more than 3-year-old case. Previously, Oakley contended Dolan had merely ordered his eviction. Now he is alleging that the owner ordered what the ex-player is calling an assault.

Last month, Oakley appealed the dismissal of his civil lawsuit against Dolan and Madison Square Garden. Oakley, 56, sued for defamation, assault and false imprisonment stemming from a February 2017 incident in which Oakley was arrested and thrown out of the Garden following an altercation with security. After the incident, Dolan banned Oakley from the Garden and suggested Oakley “may have a problem with alcohol.” The suit was dismissed last month because Judge Richard Sullivan believed Oakley didn’t make a plausible legal argument to support his claims and that Dolan had the right to remove Oakley from the building.

Two days after Oakley was arrested and dragged out of the Garden in February of 2017, Dolan famously invited several former players — including Latrell Sprewell — to attend a game. It was a transparent attempt to show Dolan had support despite the Oakley fiasco. One of the players in attendance, Vin Baker, told the Huffington Post at the time that Dolan “called me sounding really sad asking me if I would come sit with him. Hadn’t spoke to him in 15 years.” Lee, however, was clearly supporting Oakley. He wore a #34 Oakley jersey at his courtside seat and criticized Dolan for calling his friend an alcoholic.

Other celebrities have had their privileges revoked by Dolan. A source told the Daily News that another director and longtime Garden presence, Woody Allen, was banned several years ago from Suite 200, which is a VIP club at MSG. Allen’s crime was refusing to do promotions for MSG, according to a source. If Allen still attends Knicks games, he’s no longer being showed on the MSG Network telecast. Actor Ethan Hawke said he stopped receiving free tickets because he criticized the Knicks’ handling of Jeremy Lin on “The Jimmy Fallon Show.” Actor Michael Rapaport also said his comped tickets were stripped because he supported Oakley.

“From its inception, this case has had the feel of a public relations campaign, with the parties seemingly more interested in the court of public opinion than the merits of their legal arguments,” Sullivan wrote in his opinion. “That is perhaps understandable, given the personal and public nature of the dispute.” Thursday, lawyers for Oakley filed a notice to appeal that decision. That will move the case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and to its next stage. “Charles is not one to give up,” Doug Wigdor and Renan F. Varghese, the attorneys for Oakley, said in a statement. “While we are disappointed with the ruling, it’s just the beginning of the fourth quarter and we are confident that we can turn this around with an appeal that we have filed today.”
4 years ago via ESPN

Wigdor remains confident he can prove Dolan and Madison Square Garden made defamatory statements in the days following Oakley’s run-in with security. The Knicks’ public relations account released a statement on the night of the incident that said Oakley, who played for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998 and helped the franchise reach the 1994 NBA Finals, was “abusive” and added “we hope he gets some help soon.” In an interview on ESPN Radio two days after the incident, Dolan said, “To me, Charles has got a problem. We’ve said it before; he’s his own worst problem. People have to understand that. He has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol.” This is one of subjects Oakley’s legal team plans to attack in court.

The people in courtroom 905 at the U.S. Courthouse in lower Manhattan were told to rise at about 2:35 Friday afternoon. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan entered and took his seat, and the next step in Charles Oakley’s civil suit against James Dolan and Madison Square Garden was underway. Oakley and Dolan weren’t there. But lawyers for the former Knicks forward and the Knicks owner were. It marked the first appearance before the judge in the case. This was a pre-motion conference.

The feud between James Dolan and Charles Oakley continues into the courtroom. After Oakley was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden last February, the Knicks owner responded by briefly banning him from Madison Square Garden, and mentioning Oakley has a drinking problem. Oakley responded to Dolan by bringing him to court for a defamation suit. He says what took place at the Knicks game in February was an unnecessary use of force on the part of Dolan, and MSG, along with calling him an alcoholic. Dolan’s attorneys are now filing a request to have the suit dismissed.

Dolan’s defense is that Oakley’s behavior at MSG that night required removal. He claims that Oakley took his seat and began insulting security. Amy Dash, a CBS Sports Legal Analyst, broke down the suit in detail on her website. In the three page letter to the court, Dolan’s attorneys accuse Oakley of having, “a long, documented history of altercations with law enforcement and security personnel” and called the February 8, 2017 incident at MSG, where Oakley clashed with MSG guards and was hauled out of the Garden screaming during a Clippers game, just the latest example of his “recidivist behavior.” Comparing him to a repeat offender, Dolan’s attorneys directed the court to another lawsuit filed in 2011 between Oakley and the Aria Resort and Casino which details, “prior incidents in which Oakley cursed, punched, kicked, and bit security guards trying to restrain him and threw a bystander’s camera into a hotel pool; punched a guard in the face; and sent a hotel employee to the hospital by throwing dice at his face.”
4 years ago via ESPN

Former New York Knicks great Charles Oakley is preparing to file a civil suit in response to a February run-in with security at Madison Square Garden and the incident’s aftermath, sources familiar with the matter told ESPN. Oakley’s civil suit is expected to be filed shortly, per sources. Oakley hinted at the possibility of taking civil action against Dolan when he accepted a deal to have charges stemming from the incident dismissed. It is unclear if the civil suit will specifically target James Dolan, the owner of Madison Square Garden and the Knicks, or the larger entity of Madison Square Garden.

But in hindsight, Oak said he feels it was calculated to steer All-Star Weekend away from the ugly spectacle of his arrest-by-force at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 8. It didn’t fix the years of ill will between himself and Dolan that detonated in the Garden stands last week. Bygones can’t be bygones yet. “I’m not happy,” Oakley said. “I told them I’m not happy. They’re tryin’ to sweep this under the rug. I gotta think about this. They tried to tell me, ‘Let’s get some understanding around this.’ I told them in the meeting, ‘My understanding is, it might be three, four, five years before I come to a conclusion how I feel about going back in the Garden. I’m not just going back in the Garden because you want to honor me.’

“I know Oak personally so that was real tough to watch,” Paul said. “To hear them say they hope Oak is going to get some help, like he was mentally ill or something, that was tough. Since I’ve come into the NBA, we talk about looking out for younger players. Oak has been a guy who’s always checked on me, injury or anything like that. So to see him treated in that fashion in that arena was tough. I can speak for myself, but for other players I’m sure it was tough.”

Star players have come to Oakley’s defense, but James has a contrasting takeaway. In New Orleans to accept the Bobby Jones Award from the Christian organization Athletes in Action, James told The Post he thinks Oakley needs to grow up in retirement and not act like the “bully’’ he was as a player. “When people allow who they were to get in the way who they’re trying to be today … it’s about growth,’’ said James, who retired in 2014 after 13 NBA seasons, including a title with the Pistons. “So why not try to figure out a new way — not feel like you’re losing your manhood — that you’re gaining? “That’s the hardest thing for him,’’ James added. “You lived as a bully your whole life. At some point, even the bully has to realize bullying isn’t really that cool.”

James emphasized Oakley was a terrific teammate and veteran leader as a player, but would be better served if he changed his tough-guy persona in retirement, especially if he has eyes on landing a job with the Knicks. “He was known for smacking cats in the face if they stepped out of line,’’ James said. “If he said he was going to do something, he was going to do it. As an owner, if you have a big black man pointing a finger at you, I don’t care who you are. He says he’s going to do something — and has been known for doing something his whole career — what makes you think this situation is going to be any different? “When you can be the baddest person and yet be the softest person, that’s just about growing up and presenting a different type of person in a different type of way,’’ James added.

On Jan. 31, when Barkley was in the midst of a back-and-forth with Cavaliers star LeBron James, Oakley chimed in on Twitter, writing, “the hater (Barkley) need to stop drinking at work.” Two weeks earlier, the New York Daily News had an item that claimed “a source” close to Oakley said that Oakley wanted to settle the score between the two big men, and that, “Our insider says Oakley proposed that he and Sir Charles could meet in the arena of Barkley’s choosing.”

“When people allow who they were to get in the way who they’re trying to be today … it’s about growth,’’ said James, who retired in 2014 after 13 NBA seasons including a title with the Pistons. “So why not try to figure out a new way — not feel like you’re losing your manhood — that you’re gaining? That’s the hardest thing for him,’’ James added. “You lived as a bully your whole life. At some point, even the bully has to realize bullying isn’t really that cool.”
5 years ago via ESPN

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green said New York Knicks owner James Dolan operates with a “slave master mentality” by taking issue with Charles Oakley’s criticisms after the organization benefited from his contributions as a player. “You doing it for me, it’s all good,” Green said on his “Dray Day” podcast on Uninterrupted. “You doing it against me — you speaking out against my organization — it’s not good anymore? That’s a slave mentality. A slave master mentality. That’s ridiculous. “It was all fine and dandy when he was laying people out, taking fines and all this stuff for your organization. But now, all of a sudden, when he says something that he feels, it’s a problem.”

On an episode of his “Dray Day” podcast with Uninterrupted, Green sounded off about Dolan’s treatment of Oakley. The outspoken Warriors forward said Dolan had a “slave master mentality” with the situation. Green had an issue with how Dolan was fine with Oakley’s confrontational personality when it helped the Knicks, but not when he spoke out against the organization. “You doing it for me, it’s all good,” Draymond Green said. “You doing it against me…you speaking out against my organization, it’s not good anymore? That’s a slave mentality. A slave master mentality. That’s ridiculous. It was all fine and dandy when he was laying people out, taking fines and all this stuff for your organization. But now all of a sudden when he says something that he feels, it’s a problem.”
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