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If there’s a version of Charles Oakley in today’s NBA — an enforcer turned All-Star who talks a big game and plays even bigger — it is Draymond Green, so you might have assumed the Golden State Warriors star would come to the legendary New York Knicks forward’s defense. And did he ever.
Green ripped Knicks owner James Dolan’s “slave-owner mentality,” called for the firing of the team’s public relations director and blasted the organization for its treatment of current and former players in his “Dray Day Podcast” with Bay Area News Group columnist Marcus Thompson for Uninterrupted.
The two-time All-Star was highly critical of the Knicks PR department for releasing a statement after Oakley’s arrest at Madison Square Garden last week that read, “we hope he gets some help soon,” and of Dolan for doubling down on irresponsible speculation about potential alcohol and anger issues. But Green reserved the strongest language for Dolan’s treatment of Oakley leading up to the arrest:
“The man is a legend. Treat him as such. First off, this is Charles Oakley. Why is he buying a ticket to the game? If I’m not mistaken, Dolan owned that team when he was playing. It wasn’t a problem when he was speaking out then. It wasn’t a problem when he was protecting their superstars then. So, if it wasn’t a problem then, when he was doing it for y’all, why is it all of a sudden now when he’s speaking out on something he don’t like? And now you want to disown him from your entire organization?
“That’s a slave mentality. You’re doing it for me, it’s all good, but now you’re doing it against me — or not necessarily against me, but you’re 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. I disagree with that. I definitely think, like I said, that that’s a slave-master mentality.”
Dolan claims videotape shows Oakley was belligerent from the moment he entered MSG for last Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, and things only escalated when he took his seat in the first quarter, including alleged verbal aspersions cast in the Knicks owner’s direction, just a few rows ahead. Within minutes, Oakley was seen on ESPN cameras arguing and shoving security guards before being dragged into the concourse, arrested and banned for life from the Garden (temporarily).
Oakley offered a conflicting side to Dolan’s story, suggesting the Knicks owner has a longstanding issue with him that may or may not stem from his vocal criticism of the organization, and he sent the security guards to do his bidding. Then, the Knicks called him a liar. Green believes none of that matters (there are three sides to the story, he said — Oakley’s, Dolan’s and the truth), because Oakley deserved to be treated with the respect he earned as a catalyst for New York’s success in the 1990s.
Dolan did not assume control of the Knicks until 1999, the year after Oakley was traded to the Toronto Raptors, but he was involved in the organization when Oakley played for the team and is fully aware of the reputation he has in New York. Regardless, Green’s point remains: He thinks Dolan’s treatment of Oakley is rooted in a slave-owner mentality, which is quite the accusation by an active player of an owner. Dolan’s actions afterward, parading Latrell Sprewell and Larry Johnson around and sitting the ex-Knicks next to him at the next game, smacked of indignity, but Green’s claim seems like hyperbole.
This is the second time in less than a week Green has levied such an indictment of someone’s character, having said in response to Oklahoma City Thunder fan Big Rich Taylor allegedly calling Warriors players “little boy” on Saturday night: “This ain’t the ancient times. Slave days are over.”
Draymond Green said the courtside fan went over the line, ordering them around: "This ain't the aincient times. Slave days are over." pic.twitter.com/obKsImK4dM
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 12, 2017
We haven’t seen such league-wide disdain for an owner since the NBA pushed former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the franchise in 2014, and he had a very real slave-owner mentality. To suggest Dolan has reached those heights would be irresponsible, but even being likened to Sterling in any way, shape or form gives you an idea of how the Knicks owner is viewed inside his own league.
In addition to calling on the Knicks to fire their PR director for “that garbage statement” after they already axed the head of security over the Oakley incident, Green had some pointed criticism for Phil Jackson’s treatment of current star Carmelo Anthony, who the team president has openly dragged through the mud all season long. Calling Jackson “the greatest coach of all-time,” Green said, “I think what’s going on with him and the Knicks right now is kind of watering down what he did as a coach.”
“Melo hasn’t done anything wrong there,” added Green, Anthony’s Olympic teammate. “Obviously, Melo’s gotten a little older and he’s slowed down a little bit, but he’s carried himself in the best way possible. He’s continued to play through bum knees and all types of stuff and continued to play at a high level, and yet he’s going through all this stuff. I just don’t know how you can do that to someone.”
Then, Green dropped perhaps the most damning statement of all about the damage Jackson and Dolan have done these last few weeks to the Knicks’ already dissatisfactory reputation in the NBA:
“When you look at what’s going on now, with the Melo situation in their organization and now how you do a legend in Charles Oakley,” he said, “I don’t know a free agent that would want to go there.”
Meanwhile, Forbes released its annual valuations of NBA franchises around the same time Green dropped his podcast, and Dolan’s Knicks came in at a league-high value of $3.3 billion with a record operating profit of $141 million last year, so don’t expect their mentality to change anytime soon.
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