Charles Oakley has been at odds with the New York Knicks for a minute so it may be surprising to fans that the franchise offered to retire his number, the NBA legend says.
Oakley, who has been hailed as one of the greatest players in Knicks history, was banned from Madison Square in 2017 after an altercation with arena staff and fans. Now, Oakley claims the team is trying to smooth things over with him since the ejection.
“They came to me and said they were going to retire my jersey, do this and do that,” Oakley said on James Posey’s podcast The Posecast.
“And I’m like, ‘Nah, you can’t buy me that easy. If you retire the jersey, that benefits you, that ain’t benefiting me.’”
Oakley said he didn’t want to because it was a ticket-selling scheme.
“If you want to put it outside with the flag, and people don’t have to pay to come in and see it … let them drive past and see it,’’ he said. “Let it be a tourist spot.”
For years, fans have been clamoring for Oakley’s number to be retired. Even former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said in a documentary that the Big Apple legend should be immortalized.
“If I was [James] Dolan, I would retire his number and I would have a ceremony with or without him,” Van Gundy said in a recent interview with The Athletic. “I think his play, his impact on winning and his unique relationship with the fans warrants that he has his number retired.”
Charles Oakley was known as an enforcer during his days with the New York Knicks. Along with Patrick Ewing, he was a fan favorite and helped the Knicks to numerous playoff appearances. He retired in 2004.
Currently, the players who have their jersey numbers retired are: Walt Frazier (10), Earl Monroe (15), Dick McGuire (15), Bill Bradley (24), Willis Reed (19), Dave DeBusschere (22), Dick Barnett (12) and Ewing (33).