Fans stood in shock Wednesday night at the Garden as they watched a horde of security guards escort former Knicks great Charles Oakley off the court in the first quarter.
Oakley was handcuffed underneath the stadium and arrested. He was later charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal trespass.
When asked about the altercation, supporters relayed mixed emotions to the Daily News on their way out of the arena after the Knicks’ 119-115 loss to the Clippers.
“We grew up here in the Garden, so we’ve seen Oakley give his body,” Ryan Berger said in the concourse while standing next to his friend, Ian Schafer. “Tonight it was the same thing — good old Oakley doing his thing, just off the court.”
Schafer and Berger were sitting roughly 10 rows back from the where the incident took place. Schafer filmed one of the videos that went viral on Twitter, showing Oakley swinging at security guards and police officers.
Oakley has notoriously bad relationship with Knicks owner James Dolan, who watched as the beloved bruising power forward was dragged from his seat and taken to the ground in the tunnel. According to a source, Oakley was yelling at Dolan, which led to the fight with security.
“I don’t think there’s necessarily good blood between him and the organization, from what I understand. But it’s unfortunate. Put it that way,” Schafer said. “Especially during this season. There are too many distractions.”
Lifelong Knick fans and local lawyers Larry Greenberg and Dave Neveloff toggled between their two identities.
“We thought they should give him a Knicks pass. Oak, don’t do that again. You’re lucky we know you,” Neveloff said. “(But) Dolan has a right to want to be respected and not feel threatened by anyone, whether it’s Oakley or anybody.”
“He is a basketball legend,” Greenberg said. “Maybe they should have just (let him go). But if he’s throwing punches and assaulting someone, he has to abide by the same laws that everybody else does.”
When asked if they were shocked by the ordeal, Greenberg and Neveloff said in unison: “No.”
Another fan named Dave Hill, who was born and raised in New York City, couldn’t fully support Oakley after hearing he insulted Dolan.
“You can’t go into somebody’s house and disrespect them in their own house,” he said. “This is Dolan’s house.”
“I was surprised he would do anything to get escorted out,” Hill continued, standing next to his friend George Cole. “That’s what I was surprised about.”
“But he’s Charles Oakley. Got to respect him a little bit also,” Cole retorted. “Come on. You can’t throw the man out the place. He doesn’t come here that often.”
“You can’t say anything to the owner,” Hill said back to Cole. “It’s his house.”
“Oakley built the house,” Cole quipped.
“The house was here before Oakley got here,” Hill said, ending the conversation.
Meanwhile, in the Knicks locker room, players mostly avoided questions. Derrick Rose called it “the weirdest” sequence he’s ever seen on a basketball court, but said he didn’t see anything other than Oakley being escorted off the floor.
Kyle O’Quinn, Marshall Plumlee and Kristaps Porzingis all claimed they didn’t see the altercation.
Jeff Hornacek answered three questions in his news conference. The last one was the only question related to Oakley’s arrest. The Knicks’ public relations staff then ended the session after the question.
LeBron James took a stronger stance on social media.
“Mood!!” the superstar commented on Instragram next to picture of Oakley during his playing days. “#Legend.”
Other fans on Twitter also chimed in: