Knicks' James Dolan, Charles Oakley Ordered into Mediation over Civil Lawsuit

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2020

FILE - At left, in a March 18, 2014, file photo, James Dolan, executive chairman of Madison Square Garden, listens to a question at a news conference, in New York. At right, in an April 11, 2017, file photo, former New York Knicks basketball player Charles Oakley talks to the press after an appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court, in New York. New York Knicks great Charles Oakley is tired of
Uncredited/Associated Press

New York Knicks owner James Dolan and former NBA player Charles Oakley have been ordered into mediation by a federal appeals court, according to attorney Daniel Wallach, the latest chapter in the standoff between the two men dating back to Oakley's arrest and dismissal from Madison Square Garden in 2017.

Oakley filed a defamation, assault and false imprisonment lawsuit against Dolan in the wake of that incident, per Justin Tasch of the New York Post, though it was thrown out by Judge Richard Sullivan. Oakley has since appealed.

There are different accounts of the incident. MSG sources told the New York Daily News Oakley was shouting at Dolan before security asked him to leave. Oakley countered that he didn't shout at Dolan at all and that security asked him why he was sitting where he was and asked him to leave.

Video of the incident showed Oakley pushing away the guards when they made contact with him before being escorted out of the arena.

Oakley in particular took issue with Dolan suggesting he had a drinking problem.

"To me, Charles has got a problem. We've said it before; he's his own worst problem," he said in a radio interview with Michael Kay (h/t Adi Joseph of For The Win). "People have to understand that. He has a problem with anger. He's both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol. But those problems with being physically and verbally abusive, those are problem."

Oakley, who said he had a couple of drinks before his confrontational night at the Garden that led to him being banned from the arena, denied having a drinking problem and questioned why Dolan came to that conclusion.

"Dolan might think because I go to volunteer at Rebound Institute treatment centers with [former NBA player Jayson Williams] that I'm a client," he told Marc Berman of the New York Post in 2017. "I'm just supporting the amazing work Jayson is doing. I'm not an alcoholic, but Jayson is."

Knicks fans largely seemed to side with Oakley in the showdown, as he was one of the team's most popular players during his 10 seasons with the organization. And Oakley sided with longtime fan Spike Lee when the director had a recent run-in with Knicks staff over which entrance he was allowed to use, describing the Knicks organization as a "plantation."

Oakley once said of his long-time feud with Dolan that he would like to "sit down to talk to him. I want me and him in a room. And lock the door. Lock that door. ... I mean, he can have the police outside the door."

Now, Oakley will have his conversation with Dolan, though on the phone as ordered by the court.

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