Former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley denies he did anything wrong when he got into a physical altercation and was arrested Wednesday night at the team’s game at Madison Square Garden.
Oakley, 53, who had been an NBA All-Star whose tough playing style helped get the Knicks to the 1994 Finals, says his confrontation with team owner James Dolan was not started by him.
“I was there for four minutes,” Oakley told the New York Daily News shortly after he was released by police. “I didn’t say anything to him. I swear on my mother. They came over and wanted to know why I was sitting there. I bought the ticket. I said why do you guys keep staring at me. Then they asked me to leave. And I said I’m not leaving”
During the nationally televised game between the Knicks and the L.A. Clippers, Oakley was shown shoving guards who surrounded him as he was apparently arguing with Dolan. Security officials at MSG contradict Oakley’s version of the story, saying he provoked the altercation.
In a statement on Twitter, MSG officials laid the blame squarely on Oakley’s shoulders.
“Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner,” the statement read. “He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department. He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon.”
The NYPD said Oakley was arrested on three counts of assault, all third degree. He was being processed for a desk appearance and will be issued a summons to report back to court.
The altercation took place just a few rows behind the court during a stoppage in play as Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis was shooting free throws, and players from both teams turned to watch.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who played with Oakley in New York, said the scene was “sad.”
“That was tough for me to watch,” Rivers added. “Honest to God, if you could see, I took three steps. I swear I was going to run down there and then I thought, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’ But I didn’t like that. That’s my guy. So that was tough to watch from where I was standing.”
The Knicks lost to the Clippers Wednesday night 119-115.
Image: Former New York Knicks player Charles Oakley exchanges words with a security guard at Madison Square Garden. AP / Frank Franklin II