Knicks owner James Dolan isn’t fooling anybody with his latest stunt
Sunday night should have been nothing but happiness for the New York Knicks.
The team rebounded from a string of disappointing results to take down the mighty San Antonio Spurs, winning 94-90 in arguably the team’s biggest game of the season.
Beloved former Knicks Latrell Sprewell, Bernard King and Larry Johnson were all in attendance, sitting courtside with the team owner, cheering on the team during its victory. It should have been perfect.
There was a gloom hanging over everything, however, because of that owner, James Dolan, and the ugliness surrounding his lifetime ban of former Knick Charles Oakley which took place last week. And while it was nice for Sprewell to finally make his return to MSG (he hadn’t been back in years) the crass timing took away any good will the moment should have had.
Dolan’s team gave the fans a win, and he tried to show them he had good relationships with his former players, even the ones he’d publicly feuded with like Sprewell.
So why were the fans still chanting Oakley’s name in the rafters of Madison Square Garden?
The entire Oakley situation has been wildly mismanaged by Dolan and the Knicks from the start, and bringing in Sprewell, if anything, just made the whole thing seem more pathetic.
Look at how this whole thing was handled. If Dolan didn’t want Oakley at Knicks games, fine. We don’t know the entire backstory there. But to send security in the middle of a game, escalating a confrontation which leads to an arrest of Oakley and the firing of the Knicks’ head of security? Why do it? Why bring attention to it?
And from there, to then not only press charges but also to publicly humiliate Oakley to the press by implying (without any proof) that he might have a drinking problem — which Dolan did — and to do so while holding a binder labeled “PREPARATION” … the whole thing is just petty, juvenile and sad. It’s amateur hour.
And then to bring it all home by bringing out other former Knicks … I mean, did Dolan think the fans were fooled by that? Does sitting next to Latrell Sprewell at a game erase the way Oakley has been treated?
(And this is not to imply that Oakley is innocent in all this. He did his part to escalate the situation and shouldn’t have jabbed his finger into the security guard. I’m not saying he’s an angel here. But at least he’s not treating the public like we’re idiots.)
It was a bungled PR move, one so simplistic as to be insulting. Fans mad at the way we treated a former player? We’ll show them we love former players. It was so crass the Knicks couldn’t even deny that’s exactly what they were doing.
A team official acknowledged that the ex-players attended to show that the organization supports its former players in the wake of the Oakley incident.
The Knicks fans weren’t fooled. Spike Lee, wearing an Oakley jersey courtside, summed it up well.
“I mean, how can you say somebody is an alcoholic? You just can’t, in my opinion,” Lee said, via ESPN. “And even if the person was, why would you say that? I don’t know why you would say that. All I can do is wear my jersey.”
It doesn’t matter who Dolan trots out to sit next to him. It won’t erase the way he behaved. And Knicks fans are too smart to be fooled by him.