Bulls star Dwyane Wade led a chorus of current and past NBA players and other famous names Thursday who threw support behind former Knick Charles Oakley, a day after his arrest at Madison Square Garden following a physical confrontation with security.
"10years!!! 10 years Oak gave everything he had for this organization and the image everyone will be left with won't be this picture" of Oakley in a Knicks uniform," Wade posted from his Instagram account. "It will be the imagine (sic) of him being taking down to the ground last night in the same arena he gave his all 2 as a player by the guards! This Could happen to any of us!!! #StayWoke We are not above this treatment!"
Wade had his own acrimonious breakup with the Miami Heat and president Pat Riley, similar to Oakley's contentious relationship with Knicks owner James Dolan. Some sources say Oakley, also a former Bull, was yelling at Dolan before he was forcibly removed from his seat, but Oakley disputed claims he was being disruptive.
Some players expressed outrage by the Knicks' statement about the incident: "Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner. He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department. He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon."
"Hope that he gets some help soon?" Clippers guard Chris Paul started his tweet. "Not the right way to portray Oak...always had my back and the realest person our league has seen #UncleOak."
Retired NBA player Stephen Jackson had a more expletive-laden reaction. "If the Knicks and their organization had as much heart and as much passion as Oak did, then they probably wouldn't be so (bleeping) terrible," he said. "But that shows you the type of league this is: 'what have you done for me lately' league. He did all this playing, (brought) all that heart to the Knicks all those years, now they want to disrespect him."
Lebron James posted a photo of Oakley with the caption, "Mood!! #Legend."
Greg Anthony played with Oakley on the 2001-02 Bulls and for several seasons with the Knicks, and he remembers a fierce enforcer who was loyal, Anthony told WSCR-AM 670 host Danny Parkins on Thursday.
"With Charles you'd better have a good rationale for why you ask him to do something. It just escalated from there," said Anthony, an NBA TV analyst. "Charles is not a person that takes kindly to being told what to do, particularly if he feels he's being wronged or slighted. And he's not the kind of guy I would want to get on his bad side, that I can tell you firsthand."
Anthony recalled a Knicks practice from his rookie season, 1991-92, when Oakley took exception to assistant Paul Silas calling out the team for not playing hard enough.
"All of a sudden (Oakley) hauled off and he kind of pushed him in his chest and sent Paul back. I was scared, I thought he killed the guy, to be honest," Anthony said. "It was in the heat of the moment, it wasn't that it was personal but it just kind of escalated. At that moment I just knew that I was going to make sure he was one of my best friends."
Not everyone sided with Oakley. Former Bull Jay Williams chastised him and the team in a tweet: "Charles Oakley was flat out WRONG for reacting the way he did & the @nyknicks statement was a straight EMBARRASSMENT for the organization."