Charles Oakley Sues Dolan, MSG for Libel, Slander Over Garden Fracas; Seeks Damages for ‘Mental Anguish'

On Feb. 8, Oakley sat a few rows from Knicks owner James Dolan at a game against the Los Angeles Clippers; security approached and a fracas ensued

What to Know

  • Former Knicks great Charles Oakley sued the team's owner James Dolan for libel and slander
  • Oakley alleges he was defamed after a scuffle at Madison Square Garden in early February
  • Oakley accepted a deal with prosecutors in August on criminal charges related to the fight

Former Knicks star Charles Oakley has sued the team's owner James Dolan and Madison Square Garden for libel and slander over a much-publicized dispute at the New York City arena earlier this year.

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, accuses Dolan of defaming Oakley and also alleges assault, battery and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for "emotional distress and/or mental anguish" and punitive damages.

The Madison Square Garden Co. called the lawsuit "frivolous" and "nothing more than another attempt by Mr. Oakley to garner attention. We will deal with this accordingly."

The lawsuit details how Oakley was treated before and after he was forcefully removed from The Garden during a February game earlier this year.

Oakley's lawyers allege in the lawsuit that in the days after the incident, Dolan and MSG launched "a coordinated and defamatory public relations campaign against Mr. Oakley, baselessly accusing him of abusing fans and staff, acting inappropriately and struggling with alcoholism." 

"By propagating these blatant lies about Mr. Oakley, Defendants Dolan and MSG have caused irreparable harm to his name and career and discriminated against him based on the false perception that he is an alcoholic, all in a transparent attempt to denigrate his standing among Knicks fans," the lawsuit claims.

On Feb. 8, Oakley sat a few rows from the Knicks owner at a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Security approached, and a fracas ensued. Oakley was handcuffed and ejected.

Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of criminal trespass. He was accused of striking one security guard in the face with a closed fist, and when two other people tried to intervene, both were pushed and received cuts.

In August, Oakley reached a deal with prosecutors who agreed to drop the charges if he stays out of trouble for six months and complies with a condition barring him from MSG for one year, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said at the time.

The 53-year-old said then that a trial would waste time and money that should be used to "keep the streets better for kids."

His lawyer said Oakley didn't need a trial to prove his innocence.

The former NBA enforcer and rebounding machine played for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998, helping the team reach the NBA Finals. He has since had a splintered relationship with the organization because of his criticism of Dolan.

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