In an ugly incident that took place during Wednesday night’s NBA game between the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers, former Knicks great Charles Oakley was removed from the arena and arrested.
Video of the incident shows Oakley, a 6-foot-8 power forward who played 10 seasons with the Knicks, engaged in an altercation with security personnel who were apparently attempting to kick Oakley out of the arena.
Oakley, who was seated courtside, has been critical of the team’s management and owner James L. Dolan as the team has struggled on the court in recent seasons. The New York Times reports that Dolan was seated near Oakley at the game.
The report notes that accounts of Oakley’s behavior vary widely. “According to some spectators seated nearby, he had been calm early in the game. He took a photograph with Felice Bergman, a fan with season tickets several rows higher,” the paper reports, adding that “several spectators said they did not see Oakley exchange any words with Dolan or try to provoke him.”
“But they did see Oakley exchanging glances with a security guard who was standing several feet away,” The Times adds. “Oakley seemed to utter something to the guard when he walked by, according to T. J. Veenstra, who was sitting behind Oakley.”
Soon afterward, Oakley was asked to leave.
“Oakley was soon surrounded by a phalanx of guards, as John McEnroe, the former tennis champion, stood behind them on the court watching,” The Times reports. “As they tried to remove Oakley, he pushed one guard twice before being restrained and taken away. The game, which was still in its early stages, stopped as players from both teams watched the commotion. As he was being led out, the crowd chanted: ‘Oakley! Oakley!’”
Oakley was reportedly charged with four misdemeanors: three counts of third-degree assault and one count of criminal trespass. He was released with an appearance ticket, the report notes.
The incident was getting a lot of attention on sports talk shows today. Here’s a clip from this morning’s installment of ESPN’s “First Take” that includes brief video footage of Wednesday night’s altercation …