Charles Oakley Sets the Record Straight
During his playing days, Charles Oakley garnered a reputation as a fearless competitor who wasn’t afraid to mix it up and rarely backed down from a challenge. His unrelenting, aggressive attitude and tireless work ethic made him a favorite among Knicks fans during his time in New York. Oak’s popularity has withstood the test of time (surprising even to Oakley himself), which is why Charles was in Manhattan this past Saturday, to promote the launch of his new apparel line with K1X – the “K1X x Charles Oakley collection”
And much like his approach on the court as a player, Oak isn’t afraid to speak his mind now that he has transitioned to coaching. Oakley met with the media before welcoming fans and customers inside K1X’s NYC flagship store. Below are a few of the topics he tackled and some of the more interesting sound bites from the hour-long interview session.
Oakley’s thoughts on the Bobcats and his impact on the organization:
“When Paul [Silas] took it over… and his son and myself, we made a change. We made it different. We tried to bring some toughness and make the guys more hungry. It ain’t gonna be no walk in the park. We just got to keep that going; it’s a building process.”
On Charlotte’s 2011 lottery pick, the 9th overall selection, Kemba Walker:
“I think getting Kemba (Walker) is a great asset. I like his swagger and what he did for Connecticut in the NCAA’s. He’s got a trail with him – he’s won 11 straight games. He’s a kid out of New York and he’s got great swagger. I think he should have been the first pick in the draft. I think that highly of him, he should have gone number one.”
On Kwame Brown (Does Oakley deserve some credit for Brown’s solid second half last season?):
“With Kwame, I wasn’t with him in Washington; I don’t think anyone ever took the time out give him details as to what he is supposed to do night in, night out. We just started working on some drills and showing him some moves inside. I always told him, ‘If you get the ball in the paint, you can shoot it. You get the offensive rebound, throw it out.’ You know, you don’t always have to look to shoot… When we played, if you weren’t a one, two, or three option, the ball wasn’t going to be in your hands. Some teams now put the ball into the hands of guys that shouldn’t even have the ball and that’s why there are so many bad teams now. Kwame is a big guy and he’s been in the league ten years now. He had a good year. He started listening. Now, I did have to get on him a little bit,” said Oak with a smirk.
“I told him, I’m not here just to be here. When I leave here I want to be sure you got something different, hopefully see improvement in yourself. As coaches, we stayed on them guys. We came in on the run, midseason… We wanted the guys to finish the season on a good note. There is a lot of different stuff going on, but at the end of the season, they were happy with what was going on. I think we got their attention, should be good for whenever the season starts.
“Kwame is a free agent and we don’t know if he is coming back, so we’ll have to see what happens… Somebody is going to sign him, he’ll get paid. I joke around but with a body like that; you’re getting one of the best bodies in the league. You can just stand in the lane these days and you’ll make $7 or $8 million dollars. It is what it is.”
Thoughts on Erik Spoelstra and the Miami HEAT coaching situation:
“A lot of teams have scouts and people in charge that never played basketball. That’s what they are going to. They’re going to guys who just do videos and work guys out and feel like they understand the game. They’ll find out it’s not that easy. Miami found that out. The guy they got coaching, he was a good video guy under Pat Riley but, be real, this guy can’t coach.
“They can say all they want. They brought three superstars together and they talking about, ‘Well, he did a good job.’ No, he did not do a good job… He smiles too much. He just, he don’t have it. He looks good on the bench… Pat Riley looked good on the bench in L.A., so he must have said, ‘I’m going to make a superstar out of (Spoelstra)’…
“I think Pat Riley might have to come back and coach the Miami HEAT.”
When asked if Miami would have had a better season if Riley had taken over the team in the regular season, Oak responded: “He could have come back before the playoffs and they would have won. It was just two or three possessions. In a game, (Riley) wouldn’t let guys slide like that. All that celebrating? Well, they wouldn’t have been celebrating like that if Pat Riley was the coach…”
Oakley speaks out on his relationship (or lack thereof) with the New York Knicks (and Isiah Thomas):
“They don’t want nothing to do with me. I don’t know why. I tried to deal with them on several occasions. I’m not gonna keep trying.
“They don’t like Patrick, either. They won’t give Patrick a job, so I know they won’t give me a job. Patrick should have a job before anyone.
“My door is always open to the Knicks. I tell them all the time. They said something about I told LeBron to go to Miami. I was like, ‘You all have to be one of the craziest organizations in the world.’ Y’all should have tried to call me and talk to me, and maybe we could have gotten LeBron to New York. You went to Isiah and some of these other guys that don’t know the guy.
“I don’t understand how (Isiah) even got a job… He had nothing to do with the Knicks, then he talked bad about the Knicks … If I see him, he’d better turn around and go the other way.”
On Knicks Head Coach Mike D’Antoni, and whether or not his unique system can win big in New York:
“I don’t think so, but that’s his coaching style. They knew when they signed him… When you go buy a Bentley, you know it’s not a Volkswagen. When they signed him, they knew what they were getting.
“That conversation should be dead, because it’s a West Coast offense playing in a hard-nosed city.
“You always give somebody a chance to prove themselves. I mean, this is his fourth year. He’s had a lot of time. … I think it’s just more half-court offense, and they need the big, tough guy. He don’t want to play that way, but finesse, it’s not gonna work.
“Amar’e is good, he’s good in his way. He’s a West Coast player trying to translate to the East Coast. And the longer he plays in the East, the more his body’s gonna get damaged, because he’s got to take a beating now.”
Comparing LeBron James and a young Michael Jordan – does Oakley see any similarities?
“I wouldn’t put them in the same conversation.
“It took a while for Michael to win championships too, but they have a different swagger, a different demeanor. If I would compare anybody to Michael Jordan, it would be Kobe Bryant. Point blank. I know LeBron well; he don’t have what Michael have so I’m not even gonna discuss that one.
“To be a superstar (LeBron) has to go back to his fundamentals… work on his post game, work off the ball.”
Oak on comparisons between him and guys he played against:
“I don’t think anybody really reminded me of myself when I played. You can say Dennis Rodman but we’re different. He was one the best rebounding power forwards, but he couldn’t shoot and I could. He did dumb stuff; I didn’t.”
On Charlotte Bobcat Boris Diaw:
“He was out of shape all year for us… He didn’t do that good for the Bobcats… He’s a different style of guy – drinks coffee all the time…”
Oak, was there any a player that ever intimidated you?
Oakley’s asnwer: “No.”
(Click here for a glimpse at the many Oakley-inspired fashions K1X is rolling out this Fall).