What began as the arrest and removal of a beloved former star during a bizarre incident with security at Madison Square Garden last week has metastasized into a real issue for the New York Knicks.
When Charles Oakley was cuffed and taken to a police station on February 8, and then banned from the arena two days later by owner James Dolan, it seemed for a moment that maybe this would simply be another notch on the Knicks' dysfunction belt. That is, the kind of problem that stays in the family, or that is at least quickly surpassed by whatever embarrassment is coming next.
Then, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade all signed up for #TeamOak, as if the Knicks needed more bad PR around the league. Rev. Al Sharpton threatened to protest outside MSG if the ban was not lifted. Michael Jordan and NBA commissioner Adam Silver got involved, convening a meeting to try to find some sort of detente.
The ban has been lifted, but it's clear that the Knicks still have a big problem on their hands, and that NBA players view this as more than just an act of disloyalty against a team legend.
For instance, there is Draymond Green.
"You doing it for me, it's all good," the Golden State Warriors star said while discussing Oakley and Dolan on his "Dray Day" podcast Wednesday. "You doing it against me—you speaking out against my organization—it's not good anymore? That's a slave mentality. A slave master mentality. That's ridiculous. It was all fine and dandy when he was laying people out, taking fines and all this stuff for your organization. But now, all of a sudden, when he says something that he feels, it's a problem."
Maybe this is just Green speaking for himself. Or maybe this is Green, who is always outspoken, saying publicly what other players aren't. Either way, this is going to be an issue for the Knicks for the foreseeable future. Oakley remains peeved at his former team. He's not ready to return to MSG, though it seems like his demands for a return are lowering by the day. But that won't heal all wounds. Dolan also intimated that Oakley has a drinking problem and the team, in its first statement, said they hope he "gets some help soon."
"So, OK, say if they do know in the research they did that Oak has an anger problem," Green said. "That's not something that you say to the world. That's not classy at all... It's not OK for you to go say to the world as a multibillion-dollar organization. How can you even pin that on someone? Just throw that out there. That's grimy. I think that's wrong."
Update, February 16, 12:30 PM ET
On Thursday, Sports Illustrated's Maggie Gray asked Oakley about Green's comments. Oakley called Dolan a "control freak" and compared the Knicks owner to Donald Sterling.