Charles Oakley accepted a plea deal that will bar him from Madison Square Garden for one year, and the beloved and bruising New York Knicks forward doesn’t seem all that bent out shape about it.
Following an incident at MSG in February, when ESPN cameras caught Oakley scuffling with security personnel who were attempting to remove him from the arena during a nationally televised game between the Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, the 53-year-old former player faced a handful of misdemeanor charges, including assault, harassment and trespassing. With the trial set to begin on Friday, Oakley agreed to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal that would free him of all charges, so long as he is not arrested in the next six months, in addition to the yearlong Garden ban.
On Sunday, Oakley thanked and informed his fans, “The easy part is stayin away from the garden [sic].”
I want to thank all my fans around world .The case is over now that was the hard part. The easy part is stayin away from the garden. OAK
— Charles Oakley (@CharlesOakley34) August 6, 2017
The lawyer for MSG’s security personnel also sent a letter to the assistant district attorney requesting Oakley undergo three weeks of anger management, perform 10 hours of community service and stay 1,000 feet from his clients, according to ESPN. It is unclear whether those terms are part of the deal.
Oakley maintained his innocence throughout the six-month ordeal and felt vindicated by Friday’s agreement, despite turning down a similar one in June that reportedly did not include the one-year ban and insisting he wanted a trial. Oakley also asked his lawyer, Alex Spiro, to make public their intention to pursue “all civil remedies against [Knicks owner James Dolan] based on this incident.”
Charles Oakley's attorney outside of court. pic.twitter.com/nMUcYjpJeA
— Candace McCowan (@CandaceMcCowan7) August 4, 2017
Oakley’s relationship with Dolan has been contentious for years, with the former Knicks forward saying in 2015 that the team’s owner refused to meet with him about a role within the organization, and then joking in 2016 that he “wouldn’t mind cooking him dinner” and “might put something in it.”
That came to a head at the Knicks-Clippers game on Feb. 8, when Oakley purchased a ticket several rows behind Dolan at the Garden. While Oakley continues to claim he did nothing to incite his scuffle with security and suggested MSG personnel had been similarly aggressive in years past, the Knicks issued a statement shortly afterwards, saying the former player “behaved in a highly inappropriate and complete abusive manner. … He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon”:
A day later, after Oakley publicly declared his innocence in interviews from a New York City restaurant and bar and on Stephen A. Smith’s ESPN Radio show, the Knicks issued another, harsher statement, citing alleged witness testimony to the belief, “Everything he said since the incident is pure fiction”:
In the days afterward, Dolan banned Oakley from the Garden for life and told ESPN’s “The Michael Kay Show,” “He has a problem. People need to understand that. That he has a problem with anger. That he’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know. But those behaviors, of being physically and verbally abusive, you know, those are personality problems.”
Dolan came under heavy criticism for his post-incident treatment of the beloved Knicks player, especially after Oakley had to publicly issue a statement to the New York Post: “I’m not an alcoholic.”
The two sides appeared to reach a detente a week later, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver met with Oakley and Dolan, with Oakley’s friend and former Chicago Bulls teammate Michael Jordan participating by phone. “Both Mr. Oakley and Mr. Dolan were apologetic about the incident and subsequent comments, and their negative impact on the Knicks organization and the NBA,” said Silver.
Dolan lifted the ban on Valentine’s Day, but the peace treaty was short-lived. Oakley joined Sports Illustrated’s “The Crossover” two days later, calling Dolan “a control freak” and “on the level” of disgraced former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was forced out of the NBA over racist remarks.
A week after that, Oakley showed up to a Knicks game at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, as a guest of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. So, yeah, maybe staying away from MSG is the easy part, because the ex-Knicks player still seems welcome to watch his former team in other arenas. Now coaching in the BIG3, Oakley just has to hope Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 basketball league doesn’t schedule any games at MSG.
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