NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Retired Knicks player Charles Oakley was verbally abusive and likely drunk when he arrived at Madison Square Garden to watch a basketball game Wednesday night, ultimately ending with an altercation and arrest, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the incident.
Garden security was concerned about Oakley because the former hard court star sat down and immediately started screamed obscenities at Knicks owner James Dolan and his assistant, who were sitting a few rows ahead, the source told Fox 5 News.
In an on-camera interview with Fox 5's Duke Castiglione Thursday, Oakley denied being verbally abusive and said he didn't get angry until guards put their hands on him and moved to throw him out. He said he had a few drinks earlier but denies drinking at the arena. Oakley said he bought a ticket to the game, sat down, and within minutes guards were telling him he had to leave. He said he just wanted to watch the game.
Video of the incident shows Oakley yelling at and shoving security guards several times until they manage to physically restrain him and escort him out of the stands.
The law enforcement source said police officers brought Oakley upstairs to an office and then received a phone call from Knicks president Phil Jackson, who asked the cops to allow Oakley to take a call from NBA legend Michael Jordan. Oakley allegedly told the officers, "I don't need anybody on that phone," the source said.
Police brought him to the Midtown South Precinct station house where he was fingerprinted, summonsed on misdemeanor charges, and released.
The source said Oakley was never aggressive with police officers. In fact, Oakley told Fox 5 that he held no ill will toward the NYPD.
Oakley told Fox 5 that Jordan, LeBron James, and some former Knicks teammates contacted him to lend their support and say they "have [his] back."
On Thursday, the Knicks said in a statement, "There are dozens of security staff, employees and NYPD that witnessed Oakley's abusive behavior. Every single statement we received is consistent in describing his actions. Everything he said since the incident is pure fiction."
Then Friday, Dolan told ESPN Radio that the Madison Square Garden Company temporarily banned Oakley from the Garden and fired its head of security.