Oakley files civil suit against Knicks owner Dolan
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(TSX / STATS) -- Former New York Knicks forward Charles Oakley filed a civil suit related to the February incident with security at Madison Square Garden, ESPN reported on Tuesday.
Oakley's civil suit names Knicks owner James Dolan, Madison Square Garden Company and MSG Sports & Entertainment and includes several causes of action, including defamation, libel and slander.
The 53-year-old Oakley alleges Dolan, MSG Co. and MSG S&E committed defamation and libel by publicly accusing him of committing assault and stating publicly that he suffers from alcoholism. The civil suit also alleges that the defendants' statements were slanderous.
Oakley requests an award of damages to be determined at trial by a jury to compensate him for emotional distress and/or mental anguish and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
Oakley was arrested and charged with five misdemeanors -- two for assault, two for harassment and one for trespassing -- in the altercation in which security physically removed him from the arena at the start of a Feb. 8 game. The incident stemmed from a longstanding dispute Oakley had with Dolan.
"Whether it was because of resentment for Mr. Oakley's passionate following among Knicks fans, anger that Mr. Oakley would not 'kiss the ring' of the heir to the Madison Square Garden empire, or petty insecurities driven by his own personal demons, Defendant Dolan constantly disrespected Mr. Oakley, refusing to make eye contact or shake his hand during meetings, denying him the type of fan appreciation nights given to much less popular and successful members of the Knicks, and even making him purchase his own tickets to attend games at the arena he called home for a decade," the suit states.
The Garden released witness statements from a dozen employees who encountered Oakley that night and alleged that he was physically and verbally abusive. Shortly after the incident, Dolan suggested that Oakley had an alcohol problem and anger management issues.
Dolan initially barred Oakley from Madison Square Garden before lifting the ban days later.
Oakley played 10 seasons for the Knicks from 1988-98 and was a fan favorite. In recent years, he has been highly critical of the organization.
Oakley averaged 9.7 points and 9.5 rebounds over 19 seasons during his NBA career.
Updated September 12, 2017