Charles Oakley Says He's Not Ready to Return to MSG After James Dolan Lifts Ban

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Former professional basketball player Charles Oakley attends the 2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award presentation at Espace on December 5, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley said Tuesday he's not prepared for an immediate return to Madison Square Garden, even though a short-lived ban from the arena was lifted.  

Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press reported Oakley is welcome back at MSG following a discussion with Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and former Chicago Bulls teammate Michael Jordan.

Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com noted Oakley told the Dan Le Batard Show he's "not ready to accept" an invite from Dolan yet, though. ESPN's Jeff Goodman provided further remarks from him about the issue, which he says has caused him pain.

"It's not about being at the Garden," Oakley said. "It's about the fans. I want them to apologize to the fans. I told the commissioner I want them to apologize to the fans."

It's been a whirlwind week for Oakley, Dolan and the Knicks organization.

Last Wednesday, television cameras for the nationally broadcast game between the Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden caught a confrontation in the stands between Oakley and members of the arena's security staff.

Knicks PR released a statement shortly after his removal, which included a comment about the team hoping "he gets some help soon:"

Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine reported Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one of criminal trespass as a result of the incident. Dolan, who's also the executive chairman of the Knicks' ownership group, banned him from MSG two days later.

The team's diehard fanbase quickly sided with the former fan favorite.

There were chants in his favor during the team's loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. That led to Dolan inviting nine former Knicks, including Latrell Sprewell, to Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.

It will be intriguing to see what happens now that the ban is lifted. Murray Weiss of DNAinfo New York previously noted the 53-year-old former All-Star has "lobbied for years to be a goodwill ambassador for the team," but those efforts had been turned down.

Oakley didn't provide a timetable for his potential return to the Garden, but there's no rush to make a decision. The Knicks don't play another home game until Feb. 25 because of the upcoming All-Star break. They have a total of 12 contests left at MSG during the 2016-17 season.

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