Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy thinks Charles Oakley’s jersey should be hanging in the rafters at Madison Square Garden.
But Oakley wants no part of it.
Speaking on The Athletic‘s “Shattered: Hope, Heartbreak and the New York Knicks” podcast, Van Gundy recalls the night Oakley was thrown out of MSG in 2017, and lobbied for the former Knicks star’s jersey to be retired.
“If I was Mr. Dolan, I would retire his number and I would have a ceremony with or without him,” Van Gundy said. “I think his play, his impact on winning and his unique relationship with the fans warrants that he has his number retired.”
Oakley, however, told James Posey while appearing on a podcast in Feb. that he doesn’t want his jersey to be retired at MSG and has declined the Knicks’ offer previously.
“They came to me and said they were going to retire my jersey, do this and do that,” Oakley said. “And I’m like, ‘Nah, you can’t buy me that easy. If you retire the jersey, that benefits you, that ain’t benefitting me.'”
Oakley says he prefers to have his jersey hanging outside MSG so all of New York can see it.
“And I take that to heart,” Oakley said. “I’d rather for it to be on the outside than the inside because I wasn’t welcome inside.
“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. Let it be a tourist spot.”
Oakley was banned from MSG after the Feb. 2017 incident and filed a civil lawsuit against Knicks owner James Dolan and MSG that was later dismissed in Feb. 2020.
He spent 10 seasons with the Knicks from 1988-98, averaging 10.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 49.3% shooting. Oakley was an NBA All-Star team during the 1993-94 season.