Charles Oakley considers James Dolan 'on the level' with Donald Sterling

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  • Charles Oakley
    Charles Oakley
    American basketball player-coach
James Dolan isn't having his best week. (Getty Images)
James Dolan isn’t having his best week. (Getty Images)

By now, you’ve surely heard about the feud between beloved former New York Knicks player Charles Oakley and not-so-beloved owner James Dolan. For those of you still following, it just went DEFCON 1.

But first, a refresher course, because the Oakley-Dolan controversy can get complicated real quick:

• Oakley doesn’t like Dolan.

• Oakley got into a shoving match with Madison Square Garden security after allegedly “going after” Dolan during a nationally televised game last week. He was dragged into a concourse and arrested.

• The Knicks released a statement saying, “He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon.”

• Oakley denied doing anything wrong, suggesting Dolan sent security to do his bidding.

• The Knicks called Oakley a liar and banned him from MSG for life.

• Dolan said Oakley “has a problem with anger” and “may have a problem with alcohol.”

• Oakley countered, “I’m not an alcoholic.”

• NBA commissioner Adam Silver called on Michael Jordan to broker the peace.

• The Knicks lifted the MSG ban on Oakley.

• Dolan invited Oakley to be his guest at a Knicks game.

In between, there was a whole lot more drama, but Silver assured us in a statement the two sides were “apologetic about the incident” and were working “towards a resolution of this matter.”

Well, Oakley sure didn’t sound apologetic or interested in a resolution in an interview on Thursday.

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Responding to a question about Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green’s comments in his latest “Dray Day Podcast” — that Dolan’s treatment of Oakley reflected “a slave-owner mentality” — Oakley pulled no punches, as is his custom. Here’s his exchange with SI Now’s Maggie Gray:

Gray: “Charles, what’s your reaction to that and do you see it that way?”

Oakley: “He’s definitely a control freak. He’s got everybody in the Garden on pins and needles. The other owners know this. That’s the bad thing about it. They’re going to let this end up like something that happened to the L.A. Clippers. It’s that bad, but they won’t talk about it. It’s that bad.”

Gray: “Do you consider James Dolan on that same level as a Donald Sterling?”

Oakley: “Yes.”

Gray: “Do you believe that he’s a racist?”

Oakley: “He’s on the level. The level can be according to you building a house or you building a pyramid. This man has been around for a long time, and I ain’t heard nothing good about him.”

Oakley provided a caveat — that Dolan could be lower on the pyramid than Sterling — but the former NBA enforcer just implied the Knicks owner is on some level a racist. Additionally, Oakley described the resolution Silver sought as an attempt by the NBA “to make itself look good ahead of All-Star Weekend,” according to SI Now. If the commissioner dubbed this ordeal “embarrassing” before an ex-player suggested a current owner is racist, you wonder how the league feels about the situation now.

It’s unclear who began the confrontation at MSG, but security did forcibly take a highly respected black man to the ground before placing him under arrest in front of a crowded stadium, allegedly at Dolan’s behest, and the Knicks owner responded the next game by parading ex-Knicks Latrell Sprewell and Larry Johnson around the front row with him. These actions certainly emitted an air of indignity.

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But to imply Dolan is “on the level” with Sterling is quite the statement. The former Clippers owner was forced out of the NBA after a lifetime of racially charged incidents that came to a head when he was heard making brazenly racist remarks on an recording taped by his alleged mistress in 2014. Still, Oakley made clear his belief this could “end up like something that happened to the L.A. Clippers.”

We’ll assume Dolan’s offer for Oakley to be his guest no longer stands. Until the next chapter, folks.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!