If the Knicks ever wanted to convince LeBron James to join their ranks in New York, it might require owner James Dolan stepping down from his current role. James, one of the best basketball players in the history of the game, vowed that he would never go to New York after Charles Oakley had a poor experience with a Knicks’ owner years ago.
In his latest book, Charles Oakley details an interaction with James Dolan where the Knicks’ owner refused to shake his hand.
“You would have thought I did something to his wife,” Oakley wrote. “Sh–, Latrell Sprewell, who played five seasons with the Knicks, cursed at Dolan in front of Dolan’s wife when he returned to face the Knicks back in 2003, and they still became friends. I didn’t do anything to this man. What did I ever say that was so bad that he would ignore me like that? I wondered. Man, I wanted to hit him in the head.
“I walked back to LeBron and said, ‘This mother—er (Dolan) wouldn’t shake my hand,'” Oakley continued. “All LeBron said was: ‘This is why I’m never going to New York.'”
James, who has averaged over 20 points in every season of his career, will likely play out the rest of his days with Los Angeles. At 37 years old, he’s still averaging 29.1 points, 6.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, and shooting 35% from three-point range. In fact, he’s playing 36.6 minutes per game, the highest since his 2017–18 season at 33 years old.
Somehow, LeBron continues to defy age and father time, and the Knicks will never have get taste of his greatness at MSG unless he’s on the opposing team.
Clearly, Dolan has rubbed some prominent names in the NBA the wrong way over the years, including Oakley and James. It is interesting to see such a small interaction have lasting repercussions. Just two offseasons ago, the Knicks whiffed on the opportunity to land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, as the pair joined the Brooklyn Nets in a surprise move instead.
When players are electing to join the Nets over the Knicks, you know there’s a systemic problem at the head of the fish.