Charles Oakley Sues Knicks Owner for Madison Square Ejection
On September 12, 2017, Charles Oakley, former power forward for the New York Knicks in the 1980s and 1990s, sued Knicks owner, James Dolan, for allegedly humiliating him when he was kicked out of Madison Square Garden and labeled an alcoholic. Also named in the suit are Madison Square Garden Co. and other related entities. On February 8, 2017, Oakley was kicked out of a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, which Oakley alleged was for no good reason. Security guards told Oakley to leave the stadium, and when Oakley refused to leave, the guards threw him to the ground and then escorted him out of the building. Oakley was charged with assault, harassment, and trespassing after the incident. In response to the charges, Oakley agreed to a plea deal that required him to stay away from Madison Square Garden for a year and the charges would be dropped if he did not get into trouble for six months.
In the suit Oakley initiated, he alleged he did nothing to warrant being kicked out of the game in February, and that Dolan had him removed purposefully to humiliate Oakley. Oakley alleged one of the security guards asked him why he was sitting so close to Dolan, who was a few rows ahead of him. Oakley further alleged harm to his name and career because the Knicks Twitter account tweeted Oakley was thrown out of the game for behaving in an inappropriate way and abusive manner, and insinuated substance abuse problems. Then, on February 10, 2017, Dolan went on a sports talk radio show and stated Oakley was drinking the night of the incident, that he abused the security staff, and mentioned Oakley had alcohol and anger issues.
Oakley also alleged that Dolan had always treated him with disrespect. Dolan did not take over the Knicks until a year after Oakley left; however, the disrespect was allegedly constant. Oakley claimed Dolan refused to make eye contact or shake Oakley’s hand during meetings, denied Oakley fan appreciation nights, and made him purchase his own tickets for games. Oakley also took jabs at Dolan in his complaint by stating the Knicks have become the laughingstock in the NBA after Dolan took over and the team has only won one playoffs series since 2000. The complaint also brings up Dolan’s liability for retaliation against a former Knicks executive when she complained of being sexually harassed by Isiah Thomas, then-coach. Oakley also brought up a February 2015 email Dolan wrote in response to a fan’s angry email that accused the fan of being an alcoholic. Oakley used this email as support that Dolan’s knee jerk response is to accuse those he does not like as alcoholics. Oakley himself denied any kind of alcohol abuse, but also claimed violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state statutes for Oakley being denied access to Madison Square Garden due to alleged alcoholism, a disability. Oakley hopes to hold Dolan accountable for his actions.