Charles Oakley, one of the New York Knicks’ most iconic players, says he isn’t interested in having his jersey hang in the rafters of Madison Square Garden and it has everything to do with owner James Dolan.
The not-so-shocking revelation came in February when Oakley, 57, spoke about his ongoing feud with Dolan during an appearance on former NBA player James Posey’s podcast.
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“They came to me and said they were going to retire my jersey, do this and do that. And I’m like, ‘Nah, you can’t buy me that easy. If you retire the jersey, that benefit you, that ain’t benefitting me.’”
He continued: “If you want to put it outside with the flag, and people don’t have to pay to come in and see it … let them drive past and see it. Let it be a tourist spot.”
Oakley’s interest in have his jersey retired but displayed outside MSG goes back to a 2017 incident with Dolan when the former All-Star was arrested during a Knicks game and subsequently banned from the arena – although the ban only lasted a few days.
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Oakley was sitting near Dolan at a game on Feb. 8, 2017. He was approached by security soon after arriving and began to scuffle with them before he was removed from his seat and arrested.
The Knicks alleged that he had acted in an “abusive manner” and they hoped “he gets some help soon” but Oakley claimed he had not said anything when a security guard asked him to leave.
Oakley filed a lawsuit against Dolan but the case was dismissed by a federal judge in February 2020.
Regardless of their feelings toward one another, former Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy believes Dolan should retire Oakley’s jersey.
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“If I was Mr. Dolan, I would retire his number and I would have a ceremony with or without him,” Van Gundy said in a recent interview with The Athletic. “I think his play, his impact on winning and his unique relationship with the fans warrants that he has his number retired.”
Oakley, at 6-foot-11, 245 pounds, is remembered by Knicks fans as the last great enforcer who maintained that same tough reputation off the court. Of his 19 seasons in the NBA, he played 10 in New York. He totaled 12,417 points (9.7), 12,205 rebounds (9.5) and 3,217 assists over his career.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.