Don't expect Charles Oakley to return to MSG to watch the Knicks any time soon

Oakley has not been back at MSG since an altercation with security in 2017

One of the regular scenes inside Madison Square Garden during the New York Knicks' playoff run has been former players in the crowd cheering on the 2023-24 squad.

Every home game you'll see the likes of John Starks, Larry Johnson, Stephon Marbury, Latrell Sprewell, and Allan Houston, among others, sitting courtside. One former Knick whom fans haven't seen inside the building and won't see any time soon is Charles Oakley, who has not attended a game at MSG since being ejected from the arena in 2017 following an altercation with security.

Oakley's run-in led to an ongoing legal dispute with MSG. The arena said the 60-year-old Oakley, who played for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998, was asked to leave a game due to disruptive behavior. After he was cleared of misdemeanor assault charges in 2018, the longtime NBA forward brought assault and battery claims against team owner James Dolan and an updated lawsuit was filed in April.

Oakley told Dan Gelston of the Associated Press that an invitation to return to MSG was extended by the organization, but a spokesperson disputed that claim.

As the battle in court continues, the battle on the MSG court featuring the Knicks will go on without one of their beloved former players in attendance.

There is one pathway toward resolution, however, in Oakley's eyes.

“They’ve got to apologize,” Oakley said. “We’ll go from there. Can [Dolan] be man enough to say, mistakes happen. And he made one.

“Just be honest. Just be transparent over what you put someone through and how you changed their life. This definitely changed my life. My daughter Googled me, they show them pulling me out of the Garden, that’s bad. That’s hell for a kid to see that.”

Charles Oakley was part of the 1993-94 Knicks team that reached Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

After two previous lawsuits were dismissed, MSG said in a statement they expect this latest one to be thrown out.

“This matter should be behind all of us at this point, but because of the ongoing legal maneuverings of Charles Oakley and his lawyers, this case will apparently now have to continue,” MSG said. “Nevertheless, we fully expect this case to be dismissed — for the third time.”

The Knicks are in the second round of the playoffs for the second year in a row and currently hold a 2-1 series lead over the Indiana Pacers. This spring has seen both of MSG's main tenants — the Knicks and the NHL's New York Rangers — have postseason success and evoke memories of 1994.

Oakley was on the 1993-94 Knicks team that reached Game 7 of the NBA Finals — the same year the Rangers won their first Stanley Cup title in 54 years.

For now, Oakley will continue supporting his former team from a distance as his dispute with MSG continues.

“I don’t want to get in their way, they’re playing great,” Oakley said. “I’m going to cheer at the guys to do well. I’m not mad at nobody on the floor.”