'NBA legend' Charles Oakley joins BIG3, will serve as player/coach

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Friday, February 17, 2017

Charles Oakley, the former Knicks great currently embroiled in a feud with team owner James Dolan, has agreed to play in the new 3-on-3 league founded by entertainer Ice Cube that features several other ex-NBA players.

Oakley, 53, will serve as a player/coach for a team that also will include Chauncey Billups and Stephen Jackson in the BIG3 league's inaugural season.

"Charles Oakley is an NBA legend, who deserves and has earned respect, and will get just that in our league," Ice Cube said.

Oakley has been at the center of a controversy with Dolan after Oakley was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden and arrested on misdemeanor assault charges Feb. 8. Dolan banned Oakley from the arena indefinitely after the incident. The Knicks lifted the ban Monday after Dolan spoke with Oakley, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Michael Jordan.

Oakley on Tuesday told ESPN that he still doesn't want to attend a Knicks game as a guest of the organization. He later told The Undefeated's Mike Wise it would take some time before he was ready to reconcile with the organization.

The BIG3 hasn't released its schedule yet, but it is not expected to hold games at Madison Square Garden.

The league is scheduled to start play over the summer and will feature other well-known ex-NBA players, including Allen Iverson, Jermaine O'Neal, Rashard Lewis, Jason Williams, Latrell Sprewell and Ricky Davis.

Sprewell attended a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden as a guest of Dolan just days after Oakley's ejection and arrest. It was the first game Sprewell attended at MSG since he had a public falling-out with Dolan after being traded from the Knicks. Sprewell's appearance was seen as an attempt to show that Dolan has good relationships with ex-players in the wake of the Oakley incident. Sprewell, Bernard King and Larry Johnson sat alongside Dolan, and several other former Knicks attended the win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Oakley told ESPN's Mike Wise earlier this week that he lost respect for Sprewell for attending the game as Dolan's guest.

"I'm really pissed about how they brought those guys back to sit with him," Oakley said. "Bernard King is a legend and everything, but he went through an incident where he was wronged in college by the police. And I can't respect Sprewell. These guys were flown in town to make him look good. I can't respect those guys no more."