Former Knicks star Charles Oakley had his civil suit against James Dolan dismissed on Wednesday, as Manhattan Federal Judge Richard J. Sullivan made the call to throw the case out.
The feud stems from the incident back in 2017 when Oakley got into an altercation with Madison Square Garden security during a Knicks game that led to his being taken out of the arena and arrested. Dolan banned Oakley from The Garden, but waved it off a few days later. Still, Oakley has yet to return to the place he once called home as a player. Here are more details on the suit and incident.
In court documents obtained by SNY's Ian Begley, here is what Judge Sullivan said on the matter:
"From its inception, this case has had the feel of a public relations campaign, with the parties seemingly more interested in the court of public opinion than the merits of their legal arguments. That is perhaps understandable, given the personal and public nature of the dispute. But while basketball fans in general, and Knicks fans in particular, are free to form their own opinions about who was in the right and whether Oakley's ejection was motivated by something more than the whims of the team's owner, the fact remains that Oakley has failed to allege a plausible legal claim that can meet federal legal standards."
Madison Square Garden issued a statement on the civil suit being dismissed, saying "We thank the court for its ruling. This was an incident that no one was happy about. Maybe now there can be peace between us."
It will be interesting to see how things play out between Oakley and Dolan from this point forward. Based on the small sample size of reaction of some Knicks fans on social media, it seems as if most fans want to see Oakley back in the Garden.
Knicks brand consultant Steve Stoute said on ESPN's First Take that he hopes that will be the case. He said he would "love" it if Oakley were to return to The Garden and end the feud with Dolan. The Knicks hired Stoute, in part, to improve the team's brand. Regardless of who you think was right or wrong on the night of the incident, getting Oakley back in the Garden would presumably help that cause.
In the aftermath of the incident, several players, including LeBron James and Chris Paul, publicly supported Oakley. Multiple free agents in the summer of 2019 told confidants the Oakley incident was a negative factor - though certainly not a deciding one - when they considered the Knicks.
Per SNY sources, people around both Dolan and Oakley have talked to them about the benefits of settling their differences and getting Oakley back at MSG.
However, according to Oakley's attorney, Doug Wigdor, it doesn't look like his client is done just yet.
"Charles is not one to give up," Wigdor told Begley in a statement. "While we are disappointed with the ruling, it's just the beginning of the fourth quarter and we are confident that we can turn this around with an appeal that we plan to file in the coming days."
Based on that development, it doesn't seem like a reconciliation between Dolan and Oakley is imminent.