While the New York Knicks are nearing the All-Star break 10 games under .500, it seems that the “Mecca of Basketball” is in steep decline, on and off the court. Last week during a losing effort against the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks legend Charles Oakley was handcuffed and dragged out of the stadium. Oakley was charged with three counts of assault and criminal trespassing after being removed and arrested on Wednesday night.
As you can see in the video, the optics of this fiasco are not good for the New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden security or Oakley. The New York Knicks public relations department issued a statement on Twitter following the spectacle completely slandering Oakley’s conduct.
Knicks’ fans became infuriated when owner James Dolan announced that Oakley was banned indefinitely from Madison Square Garden, spurring a Twitter firestorm with hashtags such as #BoycottKnicks.
This PR gaffe caused issues amongst fans and players, past and present. Hall of Famer turned broadcaster, Reggie Miller, suggested that this event may even discourage free agents from joining the team. What is the incentive to join an organization that treats its former players so negatively?
Fans banded together to show their support for “Oak” in the following days with signs and chants alike at the game, and tweets and other social media activity poured in showing dissatisfaction with the handling of the situation.
Players also weighed in. Chris Paul, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade were just a few basketball stars who showed their support for Oakley with posts on Instagram. Doc Rivers, LA Clippers head coach and former teammate of Oakley, also expressed his disappointment with how the situation was handled.
This past Monday, Commissioner Adam Silver, Michael Jordan, Jim Dolan and Charles Oakley all met to resolve this issue. Dolan lifted the ban, and both Oakley and Dolan apologized to each other. Oakley is still unhappy stating, “I want to have a press conference and I want him to apologize to me and the fans.”
It seems both sides contributed to this PR nightmare that continues to spiral out of control. On a positive note, it is taking the spotlight off of the downtrodden Knicks, who are on pace to be the true nightmare this season.