LeBron James is Bringing Out the Worst in People

Charles Oakley tells LeBron to avoid New York

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    We've heard from all sorts of people about what LeBron James should do when he becomes a free agent next month.

    President Obama has weighed in more than once, Mayor Bloomberg played an unconvincing basketball fan in a video and all manners of other athletes, celebrities and average Joes have made their voices heard in the last few weeks.

    Charles Oakley threw his hat into the ring last week and, somewhat surprisingly, the former Knicks forward advised James to stay the hell out of New York.

    "I can’t tell him to go to New York. New York treated me bad."

    Maybe Oak was still grumpy about getting his arm broken by bouncers in Vegas, because that would offer some explanation for his fuzzy memories about his time with the Knicks. Oakley, like many other members of the Knicks of the 90's, was embraced by a city that couldn't get enough of him or his teammates. The city lived and died with those Knicks teams and while there were certainly rough patches, it's hard to imagine another city treating Oakley any better. Even now, Oakley is always greeted by standing ovations at the Garden and he admitted via Twitter that the fans were not a problem.

    He also has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to memories of how Patrick Ewing was viewed by his home city. To Oakley, Ewing avoided any blame when the Knicks, inevitably, fell short of the title which is sort of like saying that the Nixon presidency wasn't tarnished by Watergate. Ewing was damaged much more than Oakley or anyone else by the team's failure to win a championship and it is the inescapable part of his legacy that looms over his every visit to the Garden these days.  

    If Oakley had pointed to that fact and said that James might want to think twice about coming to New York, it would have been an interesting argument. Why be the lead dog in a town with such high expectations, you could argue, when you can go to Chicago where rising above Jordan is probably impossible? Or if Oakley, who complained about the way the current Knicks ownership treat him, said that James Dolan might negatively impact things, at least there would be a grounding in reality.

    This just sounds bitter, not exactly shocking from a man best remembered for his scowl, and, worse than that, it sounds dishonest. And, like just about every other word spoken about James's decision, it's ultimately meaningless because James is going to do what he does because of a plan that goes well beyond "Do what Charles Oakley tells me to do."

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.