Forget about the drama between Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony. Things got violent at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, but Jackson and Anthony weren’t a part of the scuffle. Instead, former Knick Charles Oakley was dragged from his court-side seat and arrested after a verbal altercation with Knicks owner James Dolan became physical.
It was an ugly scene. It was also shocking.
“He’s one of the great gentlemen,” The Bergen Record Knicks writer Steve Popper said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench, referring to Oakley. “As tough as he was on the court and apparently is in the stands, he’s a great guy. He’s a good guy. He’s had his falling out with the Knicks because he speaks his mind and the Knicks don’t like that. There’s been a serious falling out with Dolan, and he’s never invited him (to events).”
The bad blood boiled over with just over six minutes to go in the first quarter of the Clippers/Knicks game Wednesday.
“We were thinking we were getting Carmelo and Phil at each other, and in the first quarter, just all of a sudden, you see what looks like a confrontation,” Popper said. “It’s hard to imagine. Charles obviously has some very harsh feelings, bitter feelings, towards James Dolan, and the reports from people in the area was that there was couple things said, a couple words shouted. Security surrounded him and basically told him he had to leave. There was a little back and forth, he got up out of his seat, and when Charles stepped out of his seat – he’s 6-8 and still looks playing weight. There were guys in his face, and he shoved one security guy kind of in the face and pushed another one who was trying to settle things and calm things down. When that second shove game, they just kid of surrounded him and rushed him into the tunnel area with the NYPD.”
The 53-year-old Oakley, who played for the Knicks from 1988-98, was taken to the ground and handcuffed.
“The NYPD (took) over from there,” Popper said. “It was a very bad scene. Phil Jackson came down trying to calm it down. There was a lot of screaming, a lot of cursing. (Oakley) demanded to get the cuffs off him, but they arrested him. It sounds like it’s not going to be a serious charge here, but it’s just another ugly incident for this franchise. One after the other.”
The Knicks (22-32) lost, 119-115, and are 6-19 over their last 25 games. But on Wednesday, Oakley was the story.
“I like Charles a lot and I know some of these security people and I like them a lot,” Popper said. “You don’t want to see this happen to anybody. It was just a surreal scene. You can’t believe it’s happening. It’s a very surreal scene. But look, everything is there at the Garden these days. It’s just one thing after another.”