NEW YORK (WFAN) — We found out this week that James Dolan doesn’t take kindly to criticism. And according to fan favorite Charles Oakley, the New York Knicks owner has been holding a grudge against him for years.
Oakley said Wednesday on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show that he knew Dolan’s father, Charles, but never met the man who took control of Madison Square Garden in 1999. Last year at the All-Star festivities in New Orleans, Oakley had an opportunity to finally come face to face with James Dolan. He was introduced by basketball power broker William Wesley, but it’s unclear whether it could be classified as a meeting, because Oakley said Dolan wouldn’t acknowledge his presence.
“He wouldn’t turn around and talk to me,” Oakley said. “He wouldn’t even look me in the eye.”
Oakley said he wasn’t sure the source of the friction, though he heard over the years that Dolan wasn’t happy with some comments the former New York player made in the press.
“He said (that) I said something in the paper 15 years ago,” Oakley said. “I even asked the commissioner to set up a meeting. I said we’ll get all the articles. I said, ‘What have I said?’ … I’ll come on the air and clear it up.”
Oakley joined the Knicks in 1988 and was beloved for bringing toughness to the championship contending teams of the mid-90s. He was traded after the 1998 season.
The 51-year-old acknowledged he criticized the Knicks’ signing of Amar’e Stoudemire in 2010. Then-president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh didn’t take too well to the remarks that Stoudemire was more of a West Coast player, and Oakley later said Walsh owed him an apology during an appearance on WFAN.
And, according to Oakley, he’s had to purchase his own tickets to the Garden.
“I haven’t said nothing,” Oakley said Wednesday. “But when you are (10-42), what can (I) say good about you? I mean, what do you want me to do? People in New York know sports. Why should I jeopardize my friendship with the fans over the years who love me — I respect them — (by) saying something that don’t make sense, like a lot of people do in this city?”
Dolan made headlines earlier this week for his angry reply to a fan’s email.
“When you’re a control freak, you do things like that,” Oakley said. “Everybody should be mad in New York. There should be a lot more emails.”
Oakley was joined in studio by Utah Jazz great Karl Malone, who had some pointed comments about the NBA going soft.
— Oakley on the state of the NBA: “The whole league is bad; it ain’t just the Knicks. It’s so much bad talent. They keep drafting it. Who’s doing the scouting?”
— Oakley says he’s “embarrassed” for N.Y. fans: “What’s been going on with the Knicks, I have no control over that. I’ve been trying to get a job with the Knicks for seven, eight years.”
— Malone on rest days: “If I had to sum up one thing that I’m disappointed with … I have never seen so many athletes resting. Resting. Resting.”
— Malone on how he shaves his head: “With a pocket knife. And it’s sharp.”
Listen to the entire interview: