If you’re looking for the moment things turned sour between former Knicks forward Charles Oakley — one of the most beloved members of the 1990s contenders — and team ownership before Wednesday night’s altercation at Madison Square Garden, it’s hard to pinpoint just one thing.
But look at what Oakley told WFAN’s Boomer & Carton nearly two years ago to the day of the melee:
Oakley said … that he knew Dolan’s father, Charles, but never met the man who took control of Madison Square Garden in 1999. Last year at the All-Star festivities in New Orleans, Oakley had an opportunity to finally come face to face with James Dolan. He was introduced by basketball power broker William Wesley, but it’s unclear whether it could be classified as a meeting, because Oakley said Dolan wouldn’t acknowledge his presence.
“He wouldn’t turn around and talk to me,” Oakley said. “He wouldn’t even look me in the eye.”
“He said (that) I said something in the paper 15 years ago,” Oakley said. “I even asked the commissioner to set up a meeting. I said we’ll get all the articles. I said, ‘What have I said?’ … I’ll come on the air and clear it up.”
Oakley did admit he called out the Knicks for signing Amar’e Stoudemire in 2010, which caused some problems with then-president Donnie Walsh.
Here’s more from The Daily News a day later on the Oakley-Dolan relationship:
For all the blood, sweat and tears Charles Oakley sacrificed while wearing a Knicks uniform, the former enforcer has no love lost for owner James Dolan, calling the Garden chairman “a bad guy” Wednesday.
Oakley said he had been “quiet for a while” on his feud with Dolan. Not anymore.
“As hard as I played for that [expletive], and he don’t want to talk with me?” Oakley barked.
And it sounds like he’s been trying to fix whatever was between the two since that first meeting:
Oakley said his relationship with Dolan soured to the point that Oakley tried to broker a meeting with the volatile Knicks owner through NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“I asked the commissioner to set up a meeting with (Dolan), take a step forward,” said Oakley. “I want to know what I did to be hated so bad by an owner. The dad (Charles Dolan), I never heard him say nothing bad about me. I asked players I played with to go talk with (James Dolan). He said he don’t want to deal with me.” …
“He’s a billion-dollar guy. He own the team,” said Oakley. “But fans are the ones that pay your bills. When I was here I treated people with respect, the writers, everybody. How can I be that bad?”
That’s the question Knicks fans and current NBA stars seem to be asking after how Oakley was treated on Wednesday.