James Dolan went on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio New York and YES on Friday in an effort to clarify the situation between the Knicks and Charles Oakley that led to Oakley’s removal from Madison Square Garden and arrest on Wednesday night.
In his effort to bring clarity to the situation, Dolan likely only made Knicks fans more upset as he explained why Oakley was tossed, what security had told him about Oakley’s behavior, his insistence that Oakley needs to get help, his thoughts on the Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony situation and more.
First, Dolan confirmed that Charles Oakley was in fact banned from Madison Square Garden, even if he were to purchase a ticket, but said the ban wasn’t necessarily for life.
The ban, as Dolan tried to explain, was for the safety of all of the fans, not for him (sound familiar?!), which I would love for him to ask Knicks fans who is a bigger threat to them, Charles Oakley or James Dolan.
From there, Dolan explained that his security team told him that Oakley was belligerent from when he came in the door, and suspected he was inebriated, and felt that Oakley should have been removed from the premises before he even got to his seat, where the incident escalated into what we saw on TV.
Dolan confirmed that he had indeed fired the security chief at Madison Square Garden, and that this was the “last straw” in a situation he felt wasn’t working out. After that, Dolan winded around discussing that there’s heightened security around all famous people that come to MSG, not just Oakley, who’s felt that security has hounded him in the past — which, if they were keeping an eye on him from the moment he walked in the door, Oakley might have a point.
Once back on the Oakley situation, Dolan went back to insisting that Oakley has problems, possibly from alcohol, and that he “needs help.” This was something that touched the nerve of many when the Knicks released a statement with similar phrasing on Wednesday night.
Dolan went on later in the interview to say the Knicks would provide help for Oakley if he wanted it, which remains a very strange thing to say publicly. From there, Kay and Dolan branched out to discuss other things, like why he thinks Knicks fans hate him.
His final effort in discussing Oakley was to insist that this was a reoccurring issue and that it wasn’t just about Oakley heckling or verbally abusing him, but said that there were “racial” and “sexual overtones” to abusive things he’d said to arena staff.
“This was not just a day before yesterday incident. We’ve had a relationship with Charles since he retired and left the Knicks. Every time we have tried to patch things up with him, mend things with him, invite him to games. Every time, it ends up the same way. Abusive, disrespectful and we eventually gave up and we stopped trying to reach out to him. And now this. It’s not just about me, and I would like the fans to hear this too. There were security people there abused. There were service people there who were abused…They were abused…in a really horrible, angry nasty way. With racial overtones and sexual overtones, stuff you never ever want to hear.”
Along with the discussion of Oakley, there was also a lengthy discussion about Phil Jackson and whether Dolan was unhappy with the way Jackson has handled the Carmelo Anthony situation. Throughout that conversation, Dolan insisted that he was not involved in basketball decisions and that everything in that realm, including Jackson’s tweets about Anthony and public criticisms, was under Jackson’s realm and not his.
This was the thing that pretty much everyone could agree on from Dolan’s interview. He nailed this part. However, from there he pretty much passed the blame for any of the Knicks recent struggles to Jackson, while insisting that he would not be firing Phil before his five-year contract was up.
He also insisted that it was “not true” that he stepped in to make sure there was no effort to move Anthony or to stop Jackson from hiring Kurt Rambis in the past, as has been reported. He also said he “wouldn’t comment on” whether he thought Phil Jackson had done a good job.
So, what you have here is some world-class passing of the buck from Dolan (who is pretty good at that) and by saying that he gave Phil Jackson total control, and noting that’s what fans wanted from him, he removes himself from the blame and shifts it to Jackson and even the fans that clamored for him to be given control.
In summation, Dolan isn’t going to be apologizing for actions by MSG security or for the Knicks being bad at basketball, as that’s not his problem.