In a high-powered meeting on Monday afternoon organized by N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver, James L. Dolan and Charles Oakley worked to patch up their differences.
Dolan, the owner of the Knicks, and Oakley, among the most beloved players in franchise history, met at Silver’s request less than a week after Oakley was hauled out of Madison Square Garden in handcuffs after a skirmish with security personnel at a Knicks game. Dolan subsequently barred Oakley from entering the arena, suggesting that he had problems with alcohol and anger management.
On Monday, though, Silver announced in a statement that both Dolan and Oakley were contrite. Dolan, Silver said, expressed a hope that Oakley would return to the Garden as Dolan’s guest in the “near future” — a stunning reversal that would be a welcome relief for Knicks fans who have chanted Oakley’s name at recent games while also shouting unkind things at Dolan.
“It is beyond disheartening to see situations involving members of the N.B.A. family like the one that occurred at Madison Square Garden this past week,” said Silver, who was in attendance when Oakley, 53, was led out of the arena in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game between the Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Silver added, “Both Mr. Oakley and Mr. Dolan were apologetic about the incident and subsequent comments, and their negative impact on the Knicks organization and the N.B.A.”
Silver brokered the peace summit over the weekend. Michael Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and close friends with Oakley, participated in the meeting by telephone.
Oakley, who was a rugged forward on some outstanding Knicks teams in the 1990s, has long been a fan favorite. But he has been estranged from the Knicks for years, in part because of his habit of criticizing Dolan and the direction of the organization.
Oakley has insisted that he was not acting inappropriately on Wednesday night when, after acquiring his own ticket to the game, he sat down not far from Dolan. A number of fans who were sitting near Oakley said they had not seen or heard him being belligerent. Others suggested that he seemed combative. In any case, after security guards approached him, a shoving match ensued, and Oakley was eventually led away as fans and players looked on in shock.
On Friday, Dolan announced he was taking the step to bar Oakley from the arena out of concern for the safety of the team’s other paying customers, implying that Oakley was a danger to the general public.
Oakley responded by saying there was “something wrong” with Dolan. In the meantime, several high-profile players, including LeBron James and Chris Paul, backed Oakley while Dolan attempted to shield himself from a growing firestorm of negative publicity.
On Monday, Silver and Jordan stepped in to help save the Knicks from themselves.
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