Sport

Charles Oakley on James Dolan’s Knicks: ‘It’s a plantation’

Spike Lee supported Charles Oakley in Oakley’s feud with James Dolan and the Knicks.

Now, Oakley is supporting Lee in Lee’s feud with Dolan and the Knicks.

Oakley, via ESPN:

“It’s a plantation over there. It’s bad,” Oakley told Golic and Wingo. “People don’t want to talk about it. It’s real bad over there.

“What is this man’s problem about control? He’s so much a control freak. And he’s hurting the whole NBA,” Oakley said. “If I’m an owner in the NBA, this guy headlines every other month, every other week, with something that don’t have nothing to do with winning. It’s got to do with individuals, people’s life. We shouldn’t be going through this.”

Oakley, via the Associated Press:

“It’s got to be stopped in some kind of way,” Oakley told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday night. “The NBA has got to take a look at this. You can’t keep closing your eyes to this. This is like, turn your head if you see someone beat somebody up and you just keep walking. It just keeps happening in New York. People are not going to come here because it’s the same thing over and over and over. They got a new president and all everyone is talking about what happened between Spike Lee and the Garden.”

“I know Leon. He’s a great guy,” Oakley said. “But hey, this is something probably (former President Barack) Obama can’t fix.”

“Plantation” is a loaded word. It connotes an image of a white master and black slaves. In a league where most owners (including Dolan) are white and most players (including Oakley) are black, the term is sometimes apt. Obviously, NBA players are highly paid. But the dynamics – of who holds control and power – are sometimes rooted in a plantation mentality.

There’s more evidence of Dolan showing a slave-master mentality with Oakley, whom the Knicks celebrated while he was helping them win but shunned once he was no longer useful to them.

I don’t see it with Lee, a paying fan.

Dolan is infamously heavy-handed toward critics of all races. I think that’s more about his insecurity and paranoia than racism. (And telling Lee to use the appropriate entrance isn’t that heavy-handed. It’s just poor customer relations with a customer who holds a lot of cards.)

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said he wouldn’t meddle with the Knicks. Even with former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the league didn’t intervene until facing a financial crisis. New York is nowhere near that point.

But if Oakley makes a more persuasive case that sparks backlash like we saw with Sterling – sponsors pulling out and players threatening to boycott – maybe Silver would get involved. I don’t think Oakley has done that, though.