New York

Charles Oakley Banned from Madison Square Garden Following Scuffle With Security Personnel

The former Knicks player was arrested Wednesday night after he got into a shoving match with security personnel

Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan says Charles Oakley has been banned from the arena indefinitely.

In an interview Friday with ESPN Radio's Michael Kay, Dolan said the Knicks icon would no longer be allowed in the arena, though he hopes it won't be forever.

"He was a great Knick and we would love to have him," he said. "He should be up there being recognized but this behavior, it just doesn't work with that. Until he can address it and get it under control, then we probably won't be able to do it."

A top security official at the Garden was also fired Friday in the wake of the clash between Oakley and security personnel earlier this week. 

The Knicks said Oakley was "abusive" Wednesday even before reaching his seats in the first quarter, and on Friday distributed a witness report featuring more than a dozen witnesses who described his behavior and their interactions with him.

The team also shared with media a 1-minute security video of moments leading up to the altercation, containing brief clips of Oakley in his seat, talking to a hostess and being confronted by Garden officials. There was no audio.

Dolan said Oakley used racial and sexual overtones and that games must remain safe for fans, so he was enforcing the ban.

"We are going to put the ban in place and hopefully it won't be forever," Dolan said on the radio show. 

Oakley thanked fans Friday night as he tweeted that he "loves" the Knicks. 

"I will be holding a press conference next week," he wrote. "Let's go Knicks." 

Dolan says the firing of Frank Benedetto, the arena's vice president for security, stemmed from more than just the handling of the Oakley incident.

Benedetto was canned less than 48 hours after Oakley got into a shoving match with security personnel at Wednesday night's matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. The former Knicks player was dragged out of the game in handcuffs on live television, inciting a swift backlash from Knicks fans and NBA players, who momentarily halted the game to watch the scuffle unfold.

On Friday afternoon, the Knicks issed a release with several statements made by employees present at the game. An MSG security guard on post at the court corner said Oakley seemed "pretty inebriated" at the game and acted "pretty nasty" to security guards in the area. He allegedly fell twice on his own when personnel initially approached him.

A second security officer alleged that the Knicks great claimed he was being "discriminated against" because of his race. He said that tennis great John McEnroe wanted to get near Oakley as security restrained the former power forward.

An MSG manager said the former All-Star allegedly yelled at security guards to stop looking at him and was verbally abusive. 

Oakley was charged with three counts of assault and criminal trespassing, NYPD said. 

Benedetto could not immediately be reached for comment. MSG released video from the fray Friday afternoon.

Benedetto took over the top security position in August after serving as U.S. Secret Service official for 27 years. He was credited with ensuring the safety of former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Oakley spent a decade with the Knicks as a power forward, where he was known for being one of the team's best defensive players until he was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 1998. 

There's a history of bad blood between Oakley and Dolan. The former Knick told reporters that MSG security insisted on tailing him at games long before Benedetto's hiring. Last year, he was initially denied entry into a game at the arena after Garden management were instructed not to let him in.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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