Al Sharpton to picket MSG for Charles Oakley if ban sticks

By Alex Butler
Reverend Al Sharpton arrives on the red carpet at the 'CHI-RAQ' New York premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on December 1, 2015. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 3 | Reverend Al Sharpton arrives on the red carpet at the 'CHI-RAQ' New York premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on December 1, 2015. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 13 (UPI) -- In one corner stands the czar of a tumbling basketball franchise, which repeatedly makes all of the wrong public relations moves.

In the other corner is a New York Knicks legend, backed by fans, NBA MVP's, and other prominent figures. Charles Oakley added another big name to his encouraging entourage Monday, when Rev. Al Sharpton called James Dolan to ask that his ban from Madison Square Garden be lifted.


If not, Sharpton plans to picket with the National Action Network outside of MSG. Sharpton's name might speak the loudest, even above those like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul.

"Rev. Sharpton is calling upon Mr. Dolan to lift the ban and reinstate Mr. Oakley's privileges," Sharpton's statement read. "In the event that the ban is not lifted, NAN's Northeast Regional Director Kirsten John Foy is mobilizing people to picket Madison Square Garden in solidarity."


The Knicks' next home game in Feb. 25 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Oakley was arrested last Wednesday after being ejected from MSG for allegedly causing a scuffle in the stands. According to reports, he was yelling at Dolan and asked to stop, but did not. He was then asked to leave. Recordings of the incident show Oakley shoving an MSG security guard. The Knicks later released a statement and banned its former player from MSG indefinitely. After the arrest, Dolan suggested Oakley had a drinking problem. The team's statement gutted Oakley by saying "we hope he gets some help soon."

"Right there, attacking my character like that -- not makin' it about the moment but somethin' bigger that's wrong with me? -- I couldn't believe it," Oakley told ESPN Thursday. "I don't know how you do that. I don't."


Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams was set to meet with Dolan and MSG officials Monday about the incident.

"This is a blemish, not only on the Knicks, Madison Square Garden but sports. Any time you have a player who gave his heart and his soul to the team and the city, to be treated in that fashion, sends a chilling impact. I saw this as Eric Garner without the chokehold," Adams said Sunday during a press conference in front of MSG.

Garner died in 2014 while being placed under arrest on Staten Island. The incident was recorded on video and captured Garner saying "I can't breathe." Those words echoed throughout the league on the shirts and minds of many players, including James. Players spoke out in support of Garner and against police brutality throughout the 2014 season.

During Oakley's scuffle and altercation with a MSG security guard, he was pulled into a tunnel and forced to the ground by several men. Dolan later fired MSG's head security officer.

Oakley, 53, was an All-Star in 1993 for the Knicks. He averaged 10.4 points and 10 rebounds per game in 10 seasons for the Knicks. He played 19 seasons for the Chicago Bulls, Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, and Houston Rockets.


The NBA league office is considering a meeting with commissioner Adam Silver and Michael Jordan serving as mediators to help resolve the issue between Dolan and Oakley, according to reports. Jordan and Oakley were teammates in Chicago and Washington.

On Sunday, Dolan was spotted sitting next to former Knicks star Latrell Sprewell.

Dolan took over as executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company in 1999. The Knicks have had just four winning seasons and have had 11 different head coaches during Dolan's tenure.

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