Just two days after Charles Oakley got dragged out of MSG and arrested following a scuffle with stadium security and one day after Rangers fans let James Dolan have it for being a sensitive penis, the New York Knicks are back at home tonight. And thank God, because that short layoff means fans will surely lay into Dolan and Co. as Knicks management is subjected to a fresh round of questions from media about their disastrous handling of the debacle.
Amazingly, the team—apparently not realizing that Oakley could beat Dolan to death on the floor of the Garden without a single Knicks fan thinking less of him for it—appears to be still be trying to control the narrative. This afternoon, Knicks PR boss Jonathan Supranowitz emailed Deadspin and cryptically informed us that “There will be a video coming out later today.” The Knicks also attached a fucking spreadsheet of anonymous witness statements from people only identified by titles like “ticket taker” or “elevator operator.” (They apparently sent these around to a variety of media outlets; the New York Times included some of the testimony in an article this afternoon.)
Here are those witness statements, which demand to be read in full.
4 Penn Entrance, Ticket Taker:
Didn’t know who he was when he came in, knew he was a Knicks basketball player, but didn’t know who he was. “He was with people who had tickets, I assumed he was an alumni/ambassador. Should I have turned them away? Most definitely, But to be quite honest with you, I thought he was working, I knew he was a basketball player. As a courtesy i did not stop him, i didn’t want to embarrass him. It’s like john starks walking in or any other alumni. as long as he had a ticket, I didn’t think there was an issue with him coming in. I kind of used a judgement call because we were extremely busy at the time he did come in and I didn’t want to start any kind of..I didn’t want to embarrass him if he did belong there.” No notable interaction. Other people there recognized who he was but he didn’t know who he was. Wasn’t aware that Charles Oakley couldn’t use the entrance. Tries to direct traffic based on where they belong (delta to south concierge) but b/c he was an alumni gave him benefit of the doubt, didn’t recognize WHO he was. Wouldn’t know if he was Charles Oakley or Larry Johnson. Didn’t want to embarrass him, when Allan Houston comes in that way all the time. When on borderline and not really sure gives the benefit of the doubt and not embarrass them. Was thinking he was an alumni, and he was with guests, didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his guests. That is the reason he accepted the tickets and let them go up. Had no communication with him whatsoever, no eye contact. He stood out, did what he thought was the right thing to do. If he thought there was an issue he would have directed him to a supervisor. Did not notice anything unusual, nothing that would have alerted him to get a supervisor involved. Was busy, was concerned with taking care of everyone in line behind him.
4 Penn Entrance, GER - Concierge Desk:
When he came in I didn’t know he was Charles Oakley. I knew he was a legend but I didn’t know he was Charles Oakley. He came in with a bunch of other guys. He was rushing in with a bunch of other guys. A bunch of people were waiting. I was standing by the elevator, Mauro’s elevator came, everybody rushed on Mauro’s elevator and he couldn’t get on. He said he could have gotten on that elevator, it was only one more person. I told him you don’t want to get on that elevator and be all crowded. I advised him to wait for another elevator. He was annoyed he couldn’t get on the elevator because it was full. Nothing else notable, he was just a tall tall guy. He didn’t look angry, just annoyed that he couldn’t get on the elevator, I think he was in a rush to get up to the game. Later there was a video on YouTube or something about Oakley. I said “Oakley?” I said “That was Charles Oakley?” We knew he was a legend when he came in, but not that he was Charles Oakley. Herb Williams had come through earlier, and we usually let the legends in because if they go through the other side they get mobbed, so as a courtesy we let them come in through 4 Penn.
4 Penn Entrance to Level 3, GER - VIP Escort
This begins at the 4 Penn Lobby.
“It was about 8pm and the game was about to start so usually we’re wanted on the 3rd floor to take guests to their seats. I saw Mohamed Wilkerson, I was waiting for him to go through security to bring him up, then saw Charles Oakley right in front of the elevator. I didn’t know who he was, he was trying to get on the elevator but it was full. I said if you wait a moment sir we can all get on the next elevator. He was upset the elevator was full, started being rude. He started saying something to Mary [the concierge rep]. The elevator opened, Brett brought Wilkerson in with 4 of his people plus Oakley’s group. The elevator got to 3 and I told Wilkerson ok this is us. Oakley and his people tried to get off there, said “this is us. this is us, we’re with Charles” “We’re going to section 7, take us there take us there.” Oakley said something about Dolan, can’t remember exactly what – Something like “I need to see him” or “I’m with him.” People say this all the time, so I thought maybe he was in Suite 200, so I started check the list. I didn’t know the past history. If I knew who he was I could have helped but didn’t know the past history at all, I wish I did. He tried to push past me, so I told them they had to get back in the elevator. Wilkerson and his group walked away from me, he knows the way to Suite 200. They took me way from my guests when I was trying to help both at the time, they were being very rude. When the incident happened I was shocked. I’m young, I never even heard of the guy until now, so it’s not really the best introduction between me and him. Thankfully Bernadette [the Elevator Operator] stayed, she noticed something was up too, they were antsy and it was strange. I wish I knew of Oakley and their past so I could have prevented this but I wasn’t aware.”
He put them on the elevator and told them to go to level 6 and find Section 111 and walk down the steps to Section 7.
4 Penn Elevator, Elevator Operator:
I want to start with saying that afterwards one of our supervisors, I think his name is Jamie, came and asked me if a person by the name of Oakley came into my elevator. I don’t know his name, I can only give a description. GER Brett came into the elevator with 2 people, I always tell them to identify your guest, who is coming off. When he came off with his two people [on level 3], a tall gentleman in a black suit and 4 or 5 other guests came off with them. I said “Brett who are your two people.” He said these are the two people. I said the rest of the guests have to come onto the elevator and I will check their tickets and take them to their destination. He said “I can go here.” I came off the elevator behind them and said they couldn’t. He said “ok alright, we don’t want to put her job in trouble.” So he got back on the elevator and the men followed suit. I took them to 6 and told them to walk through section 111. They were going to section 7 or 8 to the best of my knowledge. He was with 4 or 5 other men. They knew they weren’t supposed to go there because we discussed it as the elevator was going to 3. I go behind them and brought them back on the elevator and brought them to 6. The GER did not identify to me he was going to suite 200. But from the get go he wanted to go through the third floor route, I told him he couldn’t do that. I didn’t know who he was, I found out later he was an NBA alumni. But even so I do that with all my guests. unless Mary [4 Penn Concierge] tells me they are going to suite 200 or a GER is taking them to 3, I take them to where their tickets are for. I don’t take them through that sensitive area. He knew he wasn’t supposed to get off there because I established that when I was travelling. I said Brett how much guests do you have and he has two. I checked the tickets and said you go to six. He said “no I can go through here,” the same tall gentlemen in the black suit. It wasn’t indicated to me that he was going to the suite 200 area so I was taking him to 6. They were trying to be a little problematic, but I was doing my job, and hoping I wasn’t dropping people off in the wrong area. I tried to do my job to the best of my ability. Of his caliber too, they said he was an NBA alumni, I couldn’t believe it when I heard it later. If one of you is taking them there, I know they get to where they’re going, but if they go on their own and they end up at Suite 200 later, it comes back to the Elevator Operator.
Level 3 near 4 Penn Elevators, Suite 200 Concierge (contractor):
“I got off the third floor elevators and there was a crowd gathered there, about 10 people I guess, and it was a little loud. I pushed my way through the crowd, the GSR Brett was there holding them back. They were saying we can go right through here to section 7. Brett said they can’t go through here, I helped him hold people back and said yes, you can’t go through this way. They were like “come on come on” I then noticed towards the back of the group, heard a loud “oh come on man!” then noticed him, a head taller than the crowd w/ white hair, recognized him as Charles Oakley. Tried to push their way through and were very vocal about it, were complaining when they turned back to the elevator. Brett dealt with them a lot more, I came in on the tail end. They were extremely pushy, trying to push their way through, and he was this one guy trying to hold this crowd back, I felt for him.” This was her only interaction with him the entire evening, never got close to him, only saw him in the back of this group.
Section 6-7-8, Club Seat Order Taker:
He came and I don’t know who he is, I was born in the seventies but I don’t follow basketball like that. These guys sat down in my section. He came in, I don’t know if he was with these guys. As soon as he came in he sat down, “What the f they looking at, why they looking at me, where dolan at?” I said sir calm down. [She was trying to take his order because he had mentioned to the runner something about popcorn] He said “Do you know who I am? Why the hell these f’n security guards in my face, why they looking at me.” The security guards came over and said some words. He said “get out of my face.” I didn’t communicate with him. He kept going on “F this one, f that one. Dolan this, Dolan that, what the hell you security guards gonna do. Yeah, you, you you, pointing them out.” I seen him [one of the guards?] come back saying he was looking for something, but I didn’t see a wallet. My heart was pounding, I was like oh my God.
She mentioned you can see her and the Runner, Cathy, in the media video.
Zamboni Gate, Security Officer:
I was at the Zamboni. During the timeouts I was at the bottom of 6 and 7. He stated I was in his way, he couldn’t see. I explained this was only for timeouts, then I go back to my spot. He seemed to understand. That was it on that end. When it heated up later on, I saw him trip over the stanchioned. He wasn’t pushed he wasn’t shoved, he tripped on his own. I know he also made statements to Tommy Ortiz, I don’t know what he said, but he had some comments for Tommy. [I asked if he recalled what was said] Honestly, I didn’t hear what he said to Kori, I was told later on, but I didn’t hear it specifically, it was only hearsay. He as making a lot of comments in general out loud. [I asked what kind of comments] Like racist, we’re going against him because of his color, he was being discriminated against, we were singling him out. He was very paranoid that we were standing there. When we had him at the top of the ramp he was making comments, regarding white and black. [he doesn’t remember specifically what was said] I was basically holding the crowd back, John McEnroe wanted to get near him. I held them back. I saw him drop to the floor. He dropped himself. He wasn’t pushed. [I asked again about specific language used] The language wasn’t good, but I can’t remember exactly what was said.
Court Corner, Security - Sec 6/7:
He came down, the usher brought them to their seats, sec 7 seats 11 & 12 row 1. At that time he was talking with some fans. When he looked over to his left, you know how we usually have our security officers and people against the wall? He said to his friends “You got all these fuckin’ security here looking at me, I don’t know what the fuck they’re looking at, but they’re getting on my fuckin’ nerves.” At this time I look over to my left because I hear the cursing. We make eye contact. He tells me “What the fuck are you looking at?” All I said was “I’m not looking at you.” At this time he proceeded with the curse bombs, saying f’ing this, f’ing that. When he saw Kori looking at him, he called Kori a rat bastard. He said he’s always sucking on Dolan’s dick. At this point Kori came over and Mr. Redmond came over and he stood up and was just cursing at them and that’s when he first put his finger on Tom’s forehead and Tom moved aside a little bit, and he stepped up on the grey platform area and that’s when he pushed his head with his two fingers. Now at this time Jayson is there, Kori is there, the officer who was assigned there was there. The other gentlemen who was doing security with John [Donohue], the African American man was there. At this time Jayson was trying to calm Oakley down and this is when Oakley’s hand came down, he swung down forcefully and knocked Jayson’s hand away. And then Jayson again tried to calm Mr. Oakley down and that’s when Oakley pushed him twice. At that point, that’s when the police officer and Jayson, and the officer who works for John grabbed him with whatever security officers were there to bring him from Section 7 to the Zamboni gate. At that point he fell down and was out of my view. After they passed me, I went back to my spot because I was at Mr. Dolan’s area. When they came to him originally, Oakley fell down. He fell twice. He fell the first time when security came over to him and asked him to leave. He seemed pretty inebriated. I can’t tell because I couldn’t smell anything. He was pretty nasty.
Seats through bottom of Ramp, Manager:
Charles Oakley was yelling at security guards to stop looking at him and to get out of his way during a time out and became verbally abusive.
When our Event Manger (Tom Redmond) and Event Supervisor (Jayson Jacknow) went over to politely ask to speak to Charles Oakley, he stood up and said he was not leaving. At that time they tried to reason with him and asked if he would come with them. After he repeated he was not leaving Charles took an aggressive step towards Tom Redmond and got into his face. Charles then put his finger on Toms head then aggressively striking Toms forehead with his finger. Tom did the right thing and moved to the side and into position to prepare for an ejection. At that time supervisor Jayson Jacknow tried to talk/reason with Charles where Charles then viciously chopped down on Jayson’s arm and began shoving Jason multiple times. At that time our security team got into place to remove Charles from his seat. Charles didn’t want to leave and was even holding on to the railings while we were trying to take him out the tunnel/Zamboni gate.
Once we were able to finally get Charles to the back of house he was saying things like: “This is all Dolan, I didn’t do nothing, This is some bullshit, All of you suck Dolan’s Dick”
At this Point Phil came out to talk to him and he was still very angry and didn’t seem to want to talk to anyone.
When we got down to the bottom of the ramp, and NYPD started taking statements from our employee’s and identifying who was injured.
They officer tried to get Charles’ side of the story and he said, “you didn’t want to listen to me before so don’t talk to me now.”
Charles was making statements: “All you whites over there get your story straight, why don’t you have some brothers over there with you, Fuck all you white boys.”
“ Yeah make sure you all get your story straight, because there’s going to be riots in this city, cameras don’t lie”
“ Fuck you police, I used to respect you but now I don’t have no respect for you mother fuckers”
At one point we told Charles that Michael Jordan was on the phone and wanted to speak to him. “ I don’t want to speak to Mike, he’s my brother, this has nothing to do with him, I want to talk to Dolan.”
He continued to say, “that we all just suck Dolan’s Dick” and how this is “some bullshit”
At this time the NYPD van came into 11 Penn and he was removed from the facility.
Floor through bottom of ramp, Supervisor:
I see him coming down the stairs of section 7 and I look at Kori and go “oh boy, this isn’t going to be good,” because I know the history between the two of them. As soon as he sits down he looks over in the direction of the corner of me, Kori and Tommy Ortiz and says “What the fuck are you guys looking at? Watch the fucking game.” And I think is he looking at us? Again he says “what the fuck are you guys looking at watch the game.” Kori goes over to say something to Mr. Dolan. Oakley yells “you’re a rat, you rat fuck, you snitch.” So then Kori goes over, after he had enough of him cursing at him and says “Mr Oakley you have to leave now” and he goes “I ain’t going anywhere.” I go and get the paid detail. He says “fuck you I’m not going anywhere.” That’s when it starts. He pushed me in the chest 3 times, punched my arm, poked Redmond in the face. I’ve got a big bruise on my right forearm and cut on my left hand. if you watch the video you can see i try to calm him down several times. [Did you witness him fall at all?] He threw himself to the ground on purpose at the Zamboni gate. If you look at the video you can see it. [Was that the only time he fell?] He might have fallen at the steel, I’m not sure. You’ll have to check the video. [Did you at any time assess his state of intoxication?] He definitely seemed intoxicated. [As you were escorting him] Phil Jackson tried to calm him down, he didn’t want to hear anything. He continued to curse us out, calling us Dolan’s henchmen. [did he make any accusations of racism?] At the bottom of the ramp, he said because he was black, that’s why we were doing it.
Zamboni Gate through bottom of ramp, Supervisor:
I literally came walking through the Zamboni Gate and I saw Kori as I’m walking into the corner of Zamboni, talking to somebody. That’s exactly when I came onto it and he came walking back. I recognized who he was, I said to myself that’s Charles Oakley. I heard Kori say, let’s get everybody, we’re going to go in there. I don’t know what he said to Kori or prior to that. We all walk in there, and I’m pretty much behind Jayson Jacknow, it’s a small area, about three feet wide. He’s saying “This is bullshit, I’m not going fucking nowhere, I’m not going nowhere.” He said that several times. I kind of pushed the Zamboni police officer closer to Mr. Oakley, saying we’re going to need your presence here. He kept saying “This is bullshit, this is bullshit, I’m not leaving.” I saw him put his hand on Tom’s face. Tom moved to the side. Once I saw him put his hands on Tom, I got on the radio and requested additional PD at the Zamboni. He smacked Jayson’s arms down. Jayson was saying let’s go talk, let’s go in the corner and talk. He pushed Jayson’s arms down and pushed him a few times. We held his arms and walked him through the Zamboni Gate. He tripped on the way. He kept saying “This is bullshit, I did nothing.” When he fell to the ground at the Zamboni gate there was a question if he was going to be arrested. Frank went to get Barry Watkins. When he came back out it was decided that we’d press charges and he was under arrest. At that point Phil Jackson came out and tried to talk Charles Oakley down. Then he walked away, kind of rolling his eyes, that he couldn’t do anything. We walked him down the ramp, Matt and the NYPD were there. They took pictures of Tom’s face, Jamie’s hand, and Jayson’s hand. Jayson was cut, he was bleeding. At that point Charles Oakley was about 10 feet away from us and he said “Look at all the white folks over there. Look at all the white folks.” He started getting racial. He wasn’t cooperating. At that point I went back up the ramp because we had enough people at the bottom and I went back to the Zamboni and Kori asked me what was the exact seat location. So I got the seat location, which was Section 7, Row 1, Seats 11 & 12. Then at that point I went back to the top of the ramp. I actually saw television camera guys walking down the bottom of the ramp. I yelled to them, they started to come back up. They said they weren’t going to film him, they were walking to their TV truck, they were MSG camera guys, not ESPN. That was it, I didn’t see Mr. Oakley leave the building.
Marshalling area through bottom of ramp, Supervisor
At 4 Penn: I don’t know it was him, I just saw a large gentleman coming through. There wasn’t anything in particular that caught my attention or I would have addressed it. He had an attitude problem. He came in at the same time as other celebrities. and I was paying attention to them. He came through the mag, he had a big attitude, and he got on the elevator. He had a ticket. I didn’t know who he was or wasn’t. I didn’t question who or how. They told me later that they let Knicks legends through. I assumed he was somebody because of his size, but didn’t know who.
On the floor: I was not there when it started. I was coming up from 4 Penn, I was just relieved. I was in the hallway by the Press Room. I heard them calling for assistance by the Zamboni, I had no idea what was going on but I figured it was something I should respond to based on general principle and based on the fact that Mr. Dolan was over there. By the time i got there he was already on the ground at the Zamboni and the one police officer was somewhat trying to handcuff him but I didn’t find it to be very effective. There was a lot of confusion - as a former police officer you get physical control over them and you handcuff them. My initial impression was that the officer was somewhat unsure if this person was getting arrested or just thrown out. I had no idea what precipitated all of this, but to me an arrest is an arrest. We get him up on his feet. There was just a lot of yelling and screaming. “I didn’t do nothing,” gibberish. I don’t remember specifically what he was saying. I was focusing on his left arm which he was waving around pretty good and was difficult to control. I wasn’t focused on what he was saying. At that point I felt that we were already exposed outside to the guests and the different recording that were going on and I began to give directions to get him under the canopy. Once we got there, he continued to fight. He was extremely aggressive. It was at that point that I hurt my wrist, from banging it against the sides through him refusing to comply. At that time I felt it was a very dangerous situation and he had committed criminal activity – I didn’t even see the main criminal activity - directed NYPD to treat this as any other criminal arrest, it doesn’t matter who he is.
At that point we gained control over him and handcuffed him. At that point when we get him handcuffed, once he’s handcuffed, that’s a police matter now. I step back and make sure everyone with us steps back. There weren’t many guards back there, it seemed like it was mostly supervisors and bosses. I knew we were still exposed back there to the media, that’s an area they frequent, so once he was secure, I turned my attention to clearing that area of media. Of course, as luck would have it, there were several standing back there. Once that happened, some combination of Rich and Frank came back where we were and started talking and basically agreeing that he should be arrested and I suggested getting him to the bottom of the ramp to protect him from the media coverage...or protect us from the media coverage is a better way to say it...and we did that. I felt it was an easier place to secure it. Somewhere at this point, I’m not exactly sure, our Midtown South guys, Matt, Hetman and those guys, were there and did a great job responding and were there, knowing their service would be needed, we get him to the bottom of the ramp. at that point Matt & Hetman starting doing there thing determining what to do. I said when the car comes let’s have the radio car come into the building so no one will get video of him being put into the radio car on our property. Basically, once he was handcuffed, I shifted over to damage control mode I guess. Then I stepped away. He was yelling at us and insulting us, being the way he ways. He was saying “get your story straight” mostly to the police, and he started yelling at Tom. He told him we’re not interested in talking to you. He made one racial comment. At this point Lenny [supervisor Leonard Jackson who is African American] appears, there was a black officer as well - he made a comment that the black people were on one side and the white people on the other side - he was trying to make a racial remark but it didn’t make any sense. The officer took pictures of their injuries. At that point I realized time was going quick and we had to have the Paid Detail set up for the halftime walk so i grabbed a couple of cops and left the bottom of the ramp and focused on what I had to do. I didn’t get treated until later. I didn’t go into medical until later because there wasn’t time.
He’s a big strong guy. We tried to put our hands on him without hurting him. If we had to take him down quickly we could have, but everyone did a good job of not hurting anybody or seem like they were hurting anybody. There’s a lot of metal in that area, you can very easily fall and hurt your head. Until he was handcuffed, he had only one handcuff on and until it was under control the handcuff could be a weapon, I couldn’t care less what he was saying. He was out of control. Sometimes you can talk people down, but he was past that. By the time I got there it was past that.
[Did you make any assessment as to his state of intoxication?] When I first saw him initially, I didn’t get that read, to be honest you. He was big and aggressive and had an attitude problem. But through 4 Penn you get a lot of fancy attitudes. But he didn’t do anything that struck me as being initially impaired. Later on, it was the least thing on my mind. He walked ok down the ramp. When he got to the bottom of the ramp he was lucid. To me, he seemed more of a jerk than a drunk.