Ex-Knick Latrell Sprewell Sits Beside Owner James Dolan, Discusses Charles Oakley Incident
The New York Knicks welcomed a notable alumnus back to Madison Square Garden on Sunday night: Latrell Sprewell.
Ex-Knick Latrell Sprewell and Owner James Dolan Sit Together At Game
The 46-year-old former player sat next to Knicks owner James Dolan during the team’s 94-90 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Sprewell and Dolan have had a strained relationship for quite some time. Sprewell, who helped lead the Knicks to the Finals in 1999, shouted profanity at Dolan in his first home game back in New York in 2003, following a trade from the Knicks to the Minnesota Timberwolves– something that only worsened their rapport. He was fined for the incident.
“I can’t tell you why I haven’t been back here, but I’ll tell you when I left, I was not happy,” Sprewell, who played with the Knicks from 1998-2003, told ABC. “New York is like a second home for me. I love the fans here. The fans have embraced me. There’s no place like the Garden to play in. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play in the Garden?”
Nevertheless, the pair seemed to get along just fine on Sunday, unlike the incident that occurred with another former Knicks star four days prior suggested. On Wednesday, retired player Charles Oakley, who also has had a tenuous relationship with Dolan, was arrested at Madison Square Garden following a scuffle with security guards during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Oakley, who was simply attempting to get close to Dolan to talk to him– claiming he doesn’t understand why the Knicks owner has ignored him– was handcuffed and removed from the arena, much to the disappointment of fans, who chanted for him to be let go.
Dolan has since been heavily criticized for the way Oakley was treated, and drew further anger following his unsubstantiated suggestion that Oakley may have a drinking problem. Dolan announced that Oakley was banned indefinitely two days after his arrest, and after Oakley heard of his former owner’s accusations that he had a drinking problem, the former player denied this Saturday in an interview with the New York Post.
Other ex-Knicks also sat near Dolan on Sunday, including Bernard King and Larry Johnson. Johnson, now an employee of the organization, told the New York Daily News he felt conflicted about attending Sunday’s game after Oakley’s arrest on Wednesday.
Nine former Knicks in total attended Sunday’s win. The team played a video tribute to Sprewell on the Jumbotron in the first quarter, and then he was shown sitting in the crowd, which drew cheers.
Here’s the video they just showed at MSG “welcoming back” Latrell Sprewell pic.twitter.com/DnXnsPHwmX
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) February 12, 2017
“I’m just happy to be back now,” said Sprewell, who got a warm reception from the fans Sunday. “A guy named Jonathan [Supranowitz, Knicks vice president of public relations], I’ve kept in touch with him over the years and he worked his magic and he was able to pull some strings and get me back.”
When asked about the Oakley incident, Sprewell said he was saddened by it, even though the two never played for the team at the same time, and that he hopes the Knicks organization can resolve any issues of that type appropriately in the future.
“Obviously, it’s a disappointing thing,” Sprewell said. “No one wants to see anything like that. Not just for New York, but just for the NBA family. I mean, it happened. Hopefully, it will be something that everybody can just somehow iron out and get past. I mean, just an unfortunate situation, obviously.”
MINNEAPOLIS – APRIL 21: Latrell Sprewell #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates his three point shot in the first half against the Denver Nuggets on April 21, 2004 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.