What to Know
- Charles Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of criminal trespass in the Madison Square Garden fracas
- The 53-year-old Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988-98, helping them reach the NBA Finals
- But he has a splintered relationship with the team because of his criticism of owner James Dolan
Beloved former Knicks forward Charles Oakley arrived in court Tuesday to answer to charges of misdemeanor assault and criminal trespass in the Madison Square Garden fracas that led to his ejection and arrest in February.
The former NBA enforcer and rebounding machine with the Knicks is accused of striking one security guard in the face with a closed fist in February. When two other people tried to intervene, both were pushed and received cuts.
Oakley told News 4 Tuesday he did nothing wrong.
"I don't know why it's an issue, I don't bother no one, I buy my ticket, go to my seat," he said. "I was sitting down when all this happened in my seat."
He said, "I bought tickets to sit in my seat. Eight people walk up on you, and next thing you know, you're dragged out of the Garden. I mean, that's a whole disrespect."
Oakley recently told The Associated Press he had no regrets over his behavior that night that led him getting handcuffed near an arena exit as he waited for police to arrive.
"I would have done everything just the same way," Oakley said by phone. "I didn't do nothing. I was only in the arena five minutes. I didn't know you could get in that much trouble in five minutes. I'd take my chances and do the same thing again."
The 53-year-old Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988-98, helping them reach the NBA Finals, but has a splintered relationship with the team because of his criticism of owner James Dolan. Oakley told News 4 he only met Dolan in February.
Dolan lifted Oakley's ban from MSG shortly after meeting with Oakley and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Oakley, known as candid, unfiltered and Michael Jordan's de facto bodyguard, said nothing was really settled in the meeting.
So the looming question remains: What will it take to get Oakley back at MSG for a Knicks game?
"That's the million dollar question. I don't know," Oakley said. "Right now, we're trying to get closure. Why was there a ban? Why do I have three assault cases? I want to get all that settled. That's the most important thing right now. It's not about the ban or going to the Garden. It's about going to the next step."
He told News 4 on Tuesday, "I'm just trying to do whatever I have to do right now. It's a process. They say you have to play the game."
Oakley says he feels bad for the fans. He's expected back in court on May 30.
NBA stars and fans publicly supported the former tough guy enforcer, who instigated a few feuds and flagrant fouls in his prime. Knicks fans chanted "Free Charles Oakley!" Cavaliers star LeBron James quipped, "Charles Oakley for president."
"Nobody had to go to bat for me. You think of all the people who went to bat for me, they know I'm a true gentleman guy at all times," he said.