Apologies to anyone who doesn't care about New York sports, but this should be a bigger story:
The forced removal of retired New York Knicks star Charles Oakley from Wednesday’s Knicks-Los Angeles Clippers game at Madison Square Garden has sparked a legal controversy that keeps growing.
As previously detailed on The Crossover, Oakley was charged with three counts of assault and one count of trespass after he and several Madison Square Garden employees scuffled a few rows behind the court. In an incident that was recorded by multiple cameras, Oakley threw punches and shoved, though the resulting injuries were reportedly very minor and none of the injuries required any medical attention. Oakley’s outburst appears to have been directed mainly at Knicks owner James Dolan, who was sitting nearby and whom Oakley contends has treated him with disrespect and disdain
Dolan opens the door to be sued by Oakley for defamation
Dolan escalated the Oakley conflict in remarks made while on Friday’s The Michael Kay Show. During the interview, Dolan declared that Oakley suffers from a “problem with anger” and that Oakley is “both physically and verbally abusive,” which Dolan—who does not appear to have any formal training in medicine—classified as “personality problems.”
If the NBA didn't already have the precedent that was set with Donald Sterling and the Clippers, everything regarding James Dolan would scream of divestiture or the stripping of the franchise from his ownership.
This article really gets at the legal ramifications of Oakley suing the Knicks. What should happen is this--Oakley should sue them for the embarrassment of physically removing him in the manner in which they did and the NBA should separate the Knicks franchise from James Dolan. Those two things don't have to happen together, but if they did, that would be justice.
Does race come into play here? Absolutely. I think Oakley was treated the way he was because he is black. Plenty of very, very privileged and wealthy white people say horrible things at NBA games courtside and nothing happens to them. Oakley was manhandled, defamed, and assaulted. Yes, he did strike at Madison Square Garden personnel. Was that reasonable, given what they were doing to him? I don't know how you could say he wasn't defending himself.
Does the fact that Dolan has run the Knicks straight into the ground factor into this as well? Yes, and that's the NBA's problem because well-run franchises don't seem to have these problems. Much of the ire directed at Dolan stems from the fact that he's a terrible owner with a terrible executive in the personification of Phil Jackson. To say that the Knicks are mismanaged is an understatement. This should be a storied, honorable franchise. It's far from that.
Just as the Sterling story was whipped into a frenzy, so should this one be talked about and debated. You had a very ugly incident that overshadowed the game where it happened and no one has gone after the one man who could have handled things within the limits of decency. James Dolan is so far outside of those limits, there's really no recourse but a severe and permanent punishment.