New York Knicks legend Charles Oakley is not hoping the franchise retires his jersey any time soon. During a recent interview, Oakley explained that the franchise offered to retire his number, but he shot the idea down.
“And I’m like, ‘Nah, you can’t buy me that easy. If you retire the jersey, that benefits you, that ain’t benefiting me.' “If you want to put it outside with the flag, and people don’t have to pay to come in and see it … let them drive past and see it. Let it be a tourist spot.”
Oakley played 19 years in the league and spent ten of them with the New York Knicks. He averaged nearly ten points and ten rebounds for his career and helped lead the team to an Eastern Conference Championship in 1994. During his time in New York, he became a fan favorite and several members of the Knicks community have advocated for his number to retired as of late.
“If I was [James] Dolan, I would retire his number and I would have a ceremony with or without him,” New York Knicks Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
“I think his play, his impact on winning and his unique relationship with the fans warrants that he has his number retired.”
Oakley has vehemently pushed back against having his number retired because he has a tenuous relationship with the team's owner, James Dolan. In 2017, security at the team's home arena, Madison Square Garden, violently removed Oakley from the facility during a televised game. In the aftermath, Oakley said he was being harassed and the Knicks fired back by saying that he was being "abusive." The team also said that they "hope he gets some help." Oakley was eventually arrested and charged with three counts of assault. Future Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Paul all came to Oakley's defense.
"[I] don't like the way they're trying to portray [Oakley]," Paul wrote on Instagram.
"[He has] always had my back and the realest person our league has seen!"
Neither Dolan nor the Knicks have commented on Oakley's remarks.
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