Jeff Van Gundy says Knicks should retire Charles Oakley's number

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Thursday, February 16, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy hopes that the issues between Charles Oakley and the organization end with Oakley's jersey hanging from the Madison Square Garden rafters.

"I'm glad that it seems that it's heading [toward] a positive resolution," Van Gundy, a current ESPN analyst, said before Wednesday's Knicks-Thunder game. "Hopefully one day very soon it's like Charles Oakley Day. I do think his number [34] should be retired. I do. I think the longevity and his accomplishments warrant it. But more so so he understands exactly what he meant to that organization and the city."

Oakley was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden and arrested on misdemeanor assault charges last Wednesday. Owner James Dolan banned Oakley from the arena indefinitely after the incident. The Knicks lifted the ban on Monday after Dolan met with Oakley, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Michael Jordan.

Oakley on Tuesday told ESPN that he didn't want to attend a Knicks game as a guest of the organization.

"I think everybody has to move at whatever pace they feel comfortable with," said Van Gundy, who coached Oakley with the Knicks for a total of nine seasons as an assistant and head coach. "I'm thankful that the Knicks opened the door for when he is ready that he can come back. When he's ready I think it will be something really, really positive.

"I think the fans will love it. I think the Knicks organization will be so glad that he did it. And Charles will feel honored that they have taken that step to honor him."

Regarding the possibility of an "Oakley Day," sources told ESPN that Oakley's camp and the Knicks had discussed having a possible "Charles Oakley Day," though that appears moot at this point given Oakley's most recent comments.