Knicks owner James Dolan explains why Charles Oakley has been banned from MSG

The fallout from former Knicks star Charles Oakley’s arrest at Madison Square Garden continued on Friday as team owner James Dolan made a rare media appearance on a New York sports talk station to address the issue.

Oakley, who played for the Knicks from 1988-98, was arrested following an in-game altercation with security guards at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. The Knicks released a statement shortly after that which ended with, “He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon.” Oakley appeared on a New York radio station to apologize for the incident on Thursday.

Dolan confirmed a report that Oakley had been banned from MSG, and explained his reasoning — which he says is simply a matter of public safety.

“It’s not necessarily a lifetime ban,” Dolan said. “I think the most important thing with that is that we need to keep the Garden a place that’s comfortable and safe for everyone who goes there. Anybody that comes to the Garden, whether they’ve been drinking too much alcohol, they’re looking for a fight, they’re abusive, disrespectful to the staff and the fans — they’re going to be ejected, and they’re going to be banned. Because everybody has a right to come to those games and enjoy them, and no one has the right to take that away from everybody else. In this case, that did happen, so we are going to put the ban in place, and hopefully, it won’t be forever.”

Dolan also said that Oakley’s verbal abuse included “racial and sexual overtones,” which was in line with testimony from Garden employees he released to several media outlets.


Oakley made some vaguely threatening statements toward Dolan in a New York Times article published in November, but Dolan said he was not afraid for his safety and that he didn’t think Oakley’s previous remarks should be taken seriously.

Dolan then explained that he believes Oakley may have anger or alcohol issues.

“I think that Charles has got a problem. I’ve said this before, we’ve said it before. We’ve said it one time that, you know, he’s his own worst problem. He has a problem. People need to sort of understand that. He has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know, right? But those behaviors of being physically and verbally abusive — those are personality problems.”

Michele Roberts, the executive director of the union for the players, shared her thoughts.

Dolan did accept a small amount of responsibility for the way the incident played out:

“Charles never should have made it to his seats, and that’s on us.”