Charles Oakley, the retired New York Knicks star, on the steps of his childhood home in Cleveland last October. On Wednesday night, a franchise with an addiction to needless drama raised the bar when Oakley, one of its most beloved former players, was removed from Madison Square Garden in handcuffs after a fracas involving security personnel. AP photo
Photo: ANDREW SPEAR
Photo: ANDREW SPEAR

SPORTS DAILY: Can’t help but root for Charles Oakley

There are many reasons to like former Knicks forward Charles Oakley.

• He sided with Cavs superstar LeBron James in his running feud with Charles Barkley, recently advising Sir Charles to “stop drinking at work” and once even slapping him.

• He’s from Cleveland, admits it and even owns a car wash there.

• He was a feared NBA enforcer, complete with the scowl and the will to get every rebound. After games, he was good for a shrug or a grunt, but not much more. He did all his talking on the court.

• Little-known fact: Oakley almost played at Cleveland State before turning up at Virginia Union. And if future NBA shot-blocking machine Manute Bol could have learned English in time, CSU might have had a mid-1980s front line of the 7-foot-7 Bol, 6-8 Oakley and 6-6 Clinton Smith (the Ohio State transfer who played briefly in the NBA).

So it was sad Wednesday night to see Oakley so out of control in the stands at Madison Square Garden, where for a decade he had given so much of himself to the Knicks as a player.

He was arrested and charged with three counts of assault against the security personnel who quickly surrounded him and ushered him away.

Oakley apparently sat a few rows behind Knicks owner James Dolan, with whom he’s had differences. If he was shouting at him, as witnesses claim, that only would bolster his status as a legend with New York fans, 100 percent of whom are sick to death of Dolan and his ruinous ways.

Dolan is not the worst owner in NBA history, but only because that distinction always will belong to Ted Stepien, who nearly ran the Cavaliers out of the league in the early 1980s. Rules were changed because of this Pittsburgh buffoon who once traded two first-round draft picks for journeyman guard Mike Bratz, in part because he was white.

Stepien was a fan of quotas, making sure his roster was stocked with a contingent of white players, whether they could play or not. Figures. The team mascot was a fat white guy who ate beer cans.

While not in Stepien’s class, Dolan perhaps occupies the next rung up the ladder, sharing it with the likes of Donald Sterling and John Y. Brown, who almost succeeded in chasing Red Auerbach out of Boston back in the day.

Oakley probably couldn’t help himself. He is a Knicks fan, after all. For his sake, let’s hope the judge is, too.

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