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Charles Oakley set for day in court in wake of MSG arrest

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Charles Oakley has been a beloved forward and a banned fan at Madison Square Garden.

But before Oakley, the former NBA enforcer and rebounding machine with the New York Knicks, can reconcile with his former team and return to the arena, he’s trying to beat the rap stemming from the altercation that led to his ejection and arrest in February at the Garden.

Oakley told The Associated Press he had no regrets over his behavior that night that led him getting handcuffed near an arena exit as he waited for police to arrive.

“I would have done everything just the same way,” Oakley said by phone. “I didn’t do nothing. I was only in the arena five minutes. I didn’t know you could get in that much trouble in five minutes. I’d take my chances and do the same thing again.”

Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of criminal trespass. He is accused of striking one security guard in the face with a closed fist, and when two other people tried to intervene, both were pushed and received cuts.

He is due in court Tuesday.

Oakley was set to travel to Chicago and attend Sunday’s service for former Bulls executive Jerry Krause and return to New York on Monday.

The 53-year-old Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988-98, helping them reach the NBA Finals, but has a splintered relationship with the team because of his criticism of owner James Dolan.

Dolan lifted Oakley’s ban from MSG shortly after meeting with Oakley and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Oakley, known as candid, unfiltered and Michael Jordan’s de facto bodyguard, said nothing was really settled in the meeting.

So the looming question remains: What will it take to get Oakley back at MSG for a Knicks game?

“That’s the million dollar question. I don’t know,” Oakley said. “Right now, we’re trying to get closure. Why was there a ban? Why do I have three assault cases? I want to get all that settled. That’s the most important thing right now. It’s not about the ban or going to the Garden. It’s about going to the next step.”

Oakley said he was still unsure why the fracas went down at MSG. Oakley maintains he did nothing wrong before arena security approached him just a few rows behind Dolan. Oakley was no longer comped tickets or invited to official team functions, though he attended a few times a year when he bought his own tickets. He was there only a matter of minutes before the altercation that included him hitting one security guard in the face and shoving at least one other before he was dragged away and handcuffed.

“I hope we can come to an understanding, and get to the point of, `why?”‘ Oakley said.

Dolan later suggested on ESPN New York that the former player “has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol. We don’t know.”

Oakley denied having anger or substance abuse issues.

“I’ve shown none of that stuff he’s talked about,” he said. “There’s nothing that can tell him I have any of the things that he’s talking about in my life. He’s said this three or four times to different people. It’s his way of trying to throw people under the bus .”

NBA stars and fans publicly supported the former tough guy enforcer, who instigated a few feuds and flagrant fouls in his prime. Knicks fans chanted “Free Charles Oakley!” Cavaliers star LeBron James quipped, “Charles Oakley for president.”

“Nobody had to go to bat for me. You think of all the people who went to bat for me, they know I’m a true gentleman guy at all times,” he said.

Oakley would rather stir the pot in the kitchen; his cooking has earned him a spot on Food Network’s “Chopped Tournament of Stars” and he said there are plans to soon release his own cookbook .

His specialty includes a sea bass with pineapple, asparagus, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

“I just want to get in the kitchen and do your favorite meal,” he said.

Oakley also wants to launch a clothing line next year, though he’s concerned his brush with notoriety could shut some doors in corporate America.

“It’s definitely going to punish me with some of the things I’ll probably try and do in the future,” Oakley said. “Some people don’t believe in luggage. They don’t like when there are things about you that are out there.”

Oakley has refused to keep a low profile since the MSG dustup. He mixed it up with another former bad boy, Dennis Rodman , over issues of rest; expressed his disappointment that former teammate Patrick Ewing failed to come to his defense (On Georgetown’s new coach: “Good luck to him. We’ll see how the ball bounces”) and signed on for a role as player/coach in the debut of the BIG 3 3-on-3 league backed by rapper Ice Cube.

He believed the same hard-nosed approached that served him well over a 19-year playing career, which included two stints with the Chicago Bulls, will serve him well in court.

“I’m not nervous. I believe in myself,” he said. “They said this, they said that. But 20,000 people were at the game. Millions of people saw what happened. There’s no reason for me to be nervous. If I’m wrong, I’ll take my punishment.”

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Report: First-round draft prospect says Phil Jackson fell asleep during his workout

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.

Jay Williams of ESPN:

A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”

Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.

Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.

O.G. Anunoby invited to NBA draft, Harry Giles declines

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The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.

The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.

Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.

Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?

Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?

I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).

Report: Knicks’ asking price for Kristaps Porzingis ‘massive’

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What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.

At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.

Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.

Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.

But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.

There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.

Lonzo Ball recruits LeBron James to Lakers (video)

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Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.

But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.

The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.

Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?

Ball on ESPN:

LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.

Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.

Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.