Profile | Charles Oakley, strong as an oak tree
1994. The Knicks send two players to the Minneapolis All-Star game. Patrick Ewing and John Starks. Pat Riley, the coach, was furious. In his opinion, that honor should have gone primarily to his n°34, Charles Oakley, known as “The Oak”. ” This is a joke! exclaims a drunken coach as he reads the list of All-Star Game substitutes selected by Eastern Conference coaches. ” Charles is our mainstay this season. I am as happy for Pat and John as I am sad for him. He deserved this recognition. »
It’s hard to believe that 2.06 m and 111 kg mass could go unnoticed. A consummate team player, Oakley uses his imposing frame and strength to swing his NBA racquets. In the American League, it’s called an “enforcer” and every team aiming for a title should have one. Oakley does the dirty work. However, he is not a “dirty player”, a dirty player. Plays muscular but without deception. Gotham’s powerful winger has all the right moves. Especially when it’s hot. He likes to fight. And if he doesn’t jump as high as Derrick Coleman or Dennis Rodman, he knows how to sniff the ball. Twice in his career, he had more than a thousand rebounds in one season (1987 and 88). ” He is a warrior “, Pat Riley continues before adding the nicest compliment of all: ” Charles is in-dis-pen-sa-ble! I wish all my players were like him. Not because of the style of play, but because of the state of mind. »
At that time “le Chêne” was already thirty years old. He always worked in the shadow of the stars. The first Michael Jordan on the Bulls. Then Pat Ewing and John Starks in the Big Apple. Losing a very close friend when he learned he was leaving the Knicks in 1988, “MJ” saw red. ” Who will defend now? »
Michael Jordan’s protégé
The Charles Oakley-Bill Cartwright transfer will cause a lot of ink to flow. A priori, Chicago has no reason to give up the top rebounder (2nd in the category in 1987 and 88, 5 times in the Top 10 between 1987-94) and 24-year-old super defender. 31 pins on the downslope. But Horace Grant’s hustle makes Oakley’s departure less painful. And the Bulls want to bring back an experienced big man (Cartwright is 2.16m) who can relieve the Jordan-Pippen duo in scoring (the Knicks averaged 17.5 points per 20 minutes in 1986-87 and 11.1 points in 1987-88).
His Majesty will never digest what he considers a disgraceful trade. Events proved GM Jerry Krause right with the first Chicago “three iterations,” but Jordan definitely didn’t like Cartwright. Some even suspect that he intentionally sent the former Knick rotten passes to put him in impossible situations… Michael then readily criticizes Cartwright’s turnover numbers. In practice, Phil Jackson makes sure not to go head-to-head against two players who can’t handle each other. Bill left Chicago in 1994, around the time of Jordan’s first retirement. The Bulls lost in the Conference Semifinals 4-3. Their executioners: Charles Oakley’s Knicks.
Averaging 11.8 points and 11.8 rebounds in 1993-94, “Oak” looked set to make the All-Star game for the first time in his nine-year career. The coaches decided otherwise. ” I don’t know what else to do. I have the respect of the players, but not the respect of the coaches. Maybe because they don’t have the opportunity to rub shoulders with me on the field… »
For All-Star weekend, the Cleveland native is set to stay home, toes wagging. ” It’s not a big deal, life isn’t just about basketball. And then I still hope to participate one day. »
Exceptional defensive stats
Last second twist: Alonzo Mourning, injured, must decline the invitation. Oakley soon replaces him and enjoys a well-deserved consecration. We can say that Father Charles is misunderstood. The previous season, Indiana general manager Donnie Walsh called him “rude.” The rough-and-tumble Oakley hasn’t changed, but people have opinions. Walsh admits: This man can’t stop working. He puts his intestines on the floor. »
Orlando general manager Pat Williams points out his team’s biggest weakness, saying: We need Charles Oakley! »
In addition to the classic statistics, the Knicks’ coaches raise enough tellers that prove the players’ combativeness – or not. In the 1993-94 season, “Palid” recovered 34 out of 36 fumbles. He totaled 139 assists (that is, blocked 139 baskets by coming to help a defensively beat teammate) and forced 31 turnovers. A gold nugget in the Pat Riley defense system locked out of a locked house. Back to classic stats, he is the most skilled player in New York’s top five.
“ I think all the teams have contacted us to bring him back… “Pat Riley, who is exempt from this invitation to the All-Star Game, is hitting.
” Everyone says I don’t have time off Dear Charles comments, but that doesn’t stop me from constantly fighting for the ball. I don’t know many players who like to be in contact for 30 or 40 minutes per game. My rule is to take a stand and never, ever slack off. I have this in my heart. I am physically and mentally strong. You will always find someone stronger than you, but that doesn’t stop you from giving your best. Whether someone brings me Karl Malone or heavy pivots, I won’t back down. Never. »
Charles was not yet 7 years old when he left Cleveland to live with his grandparents on a farm in Alabama. Seeing his grandfather Julius get up at 4:30 every morning to go to the fields and work, he understood the concept of work there. ” He did all this for us. When he came home, my grandmother had prepared everything for him after taking care of eight children. »
This sense of self-sacrifice has been living in “Palıd” for two decades. In his favorite phrase, his role is to “make it easier for Ewing and Starks.” ” I realized very young that nothing is easy. I saw neighborhoods where kids had everything, even things they didn’t want. And that didn’t stop them from beheading. I was no saint, but I never fell for evil tricks. »
Ranked in the Top 10 coming out of the Division II NCAA
In high school, Charles is more famous for his performances as a quarterback for the USA football team than for his acquired sneakers. However, he chose a basketball scholarship at Virginia Union University in NCAA Division II. He was the leading rebounder in Panthers history and finished his career as the Division II Player of the Year with 24 points and 17 rebounds per game.
Drafted by his hometown Cleveland in 1985 (9th pick), he was promptly traded and ended up in Chicago. Arguably one of the dumbest trades in USA professional basketball history. Selected for five starts at the end of his first season, he went on to start 163 games over the next two games and average 13.4 points and 13 rebounds. This is not enough to earn respect.
On June 27, 1988, he was replaced by an aging Bill Cartwright. Jordan may be foggy, the sequence of events will justify the Bulls taking the risk. Nevertheless, this transfer remains one of the worst memories for Oakley. The trade deprives him of an NBA title, a trophy he will never get. Maybe the three Horace Grant collected after he left. Maybe six. No one knows that when Jordan first retired, he would have sought his fortune elsewhere, just like Grant. No need to repeat history. In “MJ’s” first retirement, Oakley is in the right place at the right time, the NBA Finals. We will not repeat the result of this confrontation against the Rockets in 1994 (3-4). New York leads the series 3-2 before dropping the last two games in Houston by 2 and 6 points.
By the following summer, Oakley no longer spoke of pain or frustration. The only thing that makes him raise his voice is his salary. He paid $2 million a year (a sum that would make you laugh today), and estimates that his value is increasing every week. He deserves at least a double win for the example he has set for his teammates. ” I always tell them to think about only one thing: possession. Concentrate on offense and loose on defense. »
He also has a message for his opponents. ” The kids ahead should know that they are in for a tough evening. If they are used to 30 points, I limit it to 15. After the match, they just want to ice their bruises and sleep. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but you’ve got to win an NBA game. »
Generous on and off the field
In the mid-90s, Charles was single, but not selfish. He opened a car wash and laundromat in his old Cleveland neighborhood to create jobs. It supports many new artists in New York. He creates the recording company “Oaktree Entertainment” to cultivate new talents. Charles gives his all on and off the court. His generosity, as we say, will never be rewarded. When Jordan isn’t causing misery for the Knicks, it’s Reggie Miller. Or…Pat Riley with Miami.
In the summer of 1998, Charles Oakley was traded for rising Raptors insider Marcus Camby. Unfortunately, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady tend to step on each other’s toes. His career would end in a bit of water pudding. Three years in Canada, one in Chicago, one in Washington (with Michael Jordan…), one year in Houston…
With Jeff Van Gundy and Patrick Ewing (assistant coach) on the bench and Mark Jackson as backup to Steve Francis, the “New York Family” celebrates a great reunion. He played his last game with the Rockets in 2003-04, at the age of 40. Itching to return regularly…
His long-retired signing with Houston on a 10-day contract brought smiles to the audience. In 2007, at the age of 44, he confirmed that he was still thinking about a return, that he was interested in Dallas, Cleveland, New York and Miami, but that he would not return without a big check… Three years later, he was with the Michael Jordan Bobcats , this time as an assistant. Short term experience due to health issues…
Since then, he’s been making headlines in the New York papers as the sworn enemy of sullen Knicks owner James Dolan. In 2015, in 2015, she publicly called him a “dirty boy” in a poetic reference to her parents. Then in 2017, there was a clash as Oakley was publicly kicked out of the room mid-match. A media court battle ensued, and Charles Oakley, who was charged with assault, battery and interference, finally took a plea deal to avoid prosecution in exchange for not returning to the Knicks gym for a year. In addition, he in turn filed a complaint against James Dolan for defamation, assault and forcible confinement…
Finally, the New York referee called the game over, leaving the two sides back-to-back.
19 years old
1,282 matches (1,159 starts)
9.7 points, 9.5 rbds, 2.5 pds, 1.1 int, 0.3 ct
47.1% shooting, 25.3% 3-pointers, 76.1% free throws
All Stars: 1994
NBA All-Rookie Team: 1986
NBA All-Defensive First Team: 1994
NBA All-Defensive Second Team: 1998
His match 26 points, 35 rbds!