Former NBA star Charles Oakley said he was asked to leave Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night before any pushing and shoving started with security.
Oakley was arrested and charged with three counts of assault as a result of the altercation during the Clippers-Knicks game. He will be issued a summons to report back to court.
After being released from Midtown South Precinct shortly past midnight Eastern Time, Oakley spoke to reporters in a local restaurant.
"Me and four friends went to the game tonight to watch the Knicks and Clippers," he said. "We get there, sit down, trying to have a good time. Next thing I know I was asked to leave the building. I asked why, and he said, 'Well, you have to leave because someone ordered you to leave.' And I'm like, 'I've been here 4 ½ minutes, I'm a Knicks fan, I played here for 10 years, I love the Knicks.'"
According to police, Oakley purchased his own tickets and the seats were just a couple of rows behind Knicks owner James Dolan. The former All-Star told the New York Daily News he did not taunt or curse at the team owner on Wednesday night. According to ESPN, a fan sitting near Oakley said the former player was being boisterous but did not appear to address Dolan directly.
Things got out of hand, Oakley said, after he was approached by multiple security guards.
"Somebody walks up on you, you gotta protect yourself in all manners," Oakley said. "I've been in situations like it before. I've been jumped before, so … if you see seven, eight, nine, 10 walking up on you, you have to brace yourself and be ready for the challenge."
But even after everything, Oakley said, one thing will never change.
"I'm a Knicks fan for life," he said. "No matter if I go back to the Garden or not, I'm still gonna cheer for the Knicks."