Dolan, Oakley Ordered By Court To Talk Out Differences

Ex-Knicks Star Appealed Judge's Ruling Dismissing Lawsuit

Ryan Chatelain
March 23, 2020 - 8:57 am

In the latest twist in the ongoing legal battle between James Dolan and Charles Oakley, a court has ordered the Knicks owner and retired star player to mediate their dispute.

Sports legal analyst Daniel Wallach uncovered that Oakley, Dolan and their attorneys have been ordered to talk by phone March 31. According to the order from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, they must allot three hours for the meeting.

Last month, Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan dismissed Oakley’s lawsuit against Dolan, MSG Networks, The Madison Square Garden Company and MSG Sports & Entertainment that alleged the former Knicks power forward was a victim of assault, battery, false imprisonment and slander when he was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden during a Knicks game in February 2017, leading to a scuffle with security guards and Oakley’s arrest.

Oakley, however, appealed that ruling.

The Knicks said Oakley "behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner” during the game, and Dolan later suggested Oakley had a drinking problem.

The lawsuit attempts to paint the picture of Dolan harboring a strong hatred of Oakley for years, which came to a head that night at the Garden three years ago. 

However, in his ruling dismissing the lawsuit, Sullivan wrote: "Oakley grossly misunderstands the law concerning a landlord’s right to remove a trespasser from its property. The law is clear that the MSG defendants had the right to expel Oakley from the Garden and that his refusal to leave justified their use of reasonable force to remove him."

Madison Square Garden released a statement after the ruling saying: “This was an incident that no one was happy about. Maybe now there can be peace between us."

After his arrest, Oakley accepted a deal with prosecutors that dismissed the misdemeanor assault and trespass charges against him after he stayed out of trouble for six months and kept away from the Garden for a year.

Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988 until 1998, helping them reach the 1994 NBA Finals alongside Patrick Ewing, John Starks, the late Anthony Mason and head coach Pat Riley. But he has had a poor relationship with the team because of his criticisms of Dolan.