Charles Oakley sues MSG, James Dolan over removal from game, aftermath

NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Former New York Knicks basketball star Charles Oakley has filed a defamation lawsuit against team owner James Dolan, stemming from Oakley's forcible, televised removal from a game at Madison Square Garden in February.

The civil lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages over the ejection and its aftermath deepens a long feud between Dolan and Oakley, a fan favorite who played power forward for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998 and has faulted Dolan's leadership of the team.

Madison Square Garden Co and MSG Networks Inc , both of which Dolan serves as executive chairman, were also named as defendants in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

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Charles Oakley through the years
Feb 23, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Former New York Knicks player Charles Oakley, left, attends the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Retired basketball player Charles Oakley arrives on the red carpet for the film "The Carter Effect" at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), in Toronto, Canada, September 9, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Toronto Raptors' power foward Charles Oakley looks out from a T-shirt welcoming him back to the club after signing a three- year contract in Toronto, September 2. Oakley, who played out his one-year contract with the Raptors last season, resigned with the team after long a off season testing the free-agency market.
Vancouver Grizzlies center Bryant Reeves (R) loses the ball against Toronto Raptors forward Charles Oakley during first half National Basketball Association action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, January 9. The Grizzlies defeated the Raptors 107-97. ANW/HB
NBA basketball former player Charles Oakley looks on during Comunitat Valenciana Motorcycling Grand Prix at Ricardo Tormo race track in the Spanish eastern town of Cheste, near Valencia, November 6, 2005. REUTERS/Victor Fraile
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Charles Oakley #34 of the Killer 3s reacts to a call in their game against the Trilogy during week eight of the BIG3 three on three basketball league at Staples Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/BIG3/Getty Images)
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The defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Oakley's case arose from his ejection from his courtside seat at a Feb. 8 Knicks game after a run-in with security.

Manhattan prosecutors later filed misdemeanor assault and trespass charges against Oakley. They agreed to drop the charges last month, so long as the 19-year National Basketball Association veteran stayed out of trouble for six months and agreed not to trespass at the Garden.

In his complaint, Oakley, 53, accused Dolan of treating him like a "common criminal" by directing his removal from the game, and then launching a "coordinated and defamatory" public campaign accusing him of abusive behavior and alcoholism.

"By propagating these blatant lies about Mr. Oakley, Defendants Dolan and MSG have caused irreparable harm to his name and career," in a "transparent attempt to denigrate his standing among Knicks fans," the complaint said.

"As he did throughout his playing career, Mr. Oakley has refused to walk to the bench in shame," the complaint added.

Oakley's claims also include libel, slander, assault and battery, false imprisonment, and discrimination based on his perceived alcoholism.

"Mr. Oakley filed this lawsuit out of principle and his desire to hold Mr. Dolan accountable for his actions," Oakley lawyer Douglas Wigdor said in a statement.

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The highest-paid NBA players of all time

25. Rasheed Wallace -- $158,110,581

Seasons: 16
Highest single-season salary: $17 million
Championships: 1
All-Star Games: 4
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo By Kent Horner/NBAE via Getty Images)

24. Chris Paul -- $158,226,325

Seasons: 12
Highest single-season salary: $22.9 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 9
NBA First-team All-NBA: 4

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

23. Tyson Chandler -- $158,586,645

Seasons: 16
Highest single-season salary: $14.8 million
Championships: 1
All-Star Games: 1
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

22. Vince Carter -- $159,087,631

Seasons: 19
Highest single-season salary: $18.3 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 8
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

21. Amar'e Stoudemire -- $161,628,892

Seasons: 14
Highest single-season salary: $23.4 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 6
NBA First-team All-NBA: 1

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

20. Tracy McGrady -- $162,978,278

Seasons: 15
Highest single-season salary: $23.2 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 7
NBA First-team All-NBA: 2

(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

19. Elton Brand -- $164,901,096

Seasons: 16
Highest single-season salary: $17.1 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 2
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

18. Jermaine O'Neal -- $168,794,021

Seasons: 18
Highest single-season salary: $23 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 6
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

17. Zach Randolph -- $172,597,245

Seasons: 15
Highest single-season salary: $17.8 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 2
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

16. Dwyane Wade -- $176,115,934

Seasons: 14
Highest single-season salary: $23.2 million
Championships: 3
All-Star Games: 12
NBA First-team All-NBA: 2

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

15. Chris Webber -- $178,230,697

Seasons: 15
Highest single-season salary: $19.1 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 5
NBA First-team All-NBA: 1

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

14. Pau Gasol -- $182,999,615

Seasons: 16
Highest single-season salary: $19.3 million
Championships: 2
All-Star Games: 6
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

13. Ray Allen -- $184,356,410

Seasons: 18
Highest single-season salary: $18.8 million
Championships: 2
All-Star Games: 10
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

12. Dwight Howard -- $186,735,761

Seasons: 13
Highest single-season salary: $23.2 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 8
NBA First-team All-NBA: 5

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

11. Chris Bosh -- $186,936,512

Seasons: 14
Highest single-season salary: $23.7 million
Championships: 2
All-Star Games: 11
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

10. Jason Kidd -- $187,675,468

Seasons: 19
Highest single-season salary: $21.4 million
Championships: 1
All-Star Games: 10
NBA First-team All-NBA: 5

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

9. Paul Pierce -- $194,035,952

Seasons: 19
Highest single-season salary: $19.8 million
Championships: 1
All-Star Games: 10
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

8. LeBron James -- $200,607,292

Seasons: 14
Highest single-season salary: $31.0 million
Championships: 3
All-Star Games: 13
NBA First-team All-NBA: 10

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

7. Carmelo Anthony -- $201,120,659

Seasons: 14
Highest single-season salary: $24.6 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 10
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

6. Joe Johnson -- $203,542,249

Seasons: 16
Highest single-season salary: $24.9 million
Championships: 0
All-Star Games: 7
NBA First-team All-NBA: 0

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

5. Tim Duncan -- $238,262,300

Seasons: 19
Highest single-season salary: $22.2 million
Championships: 5
All-Star Games: 15
NBA First-team All-NBA: 10

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

4. Dirk Nowitzki -- $241,646,362

Seasons: 19
Highest single-season salary: $25.0 million
Championships: 1
All-Star Games: 13
NBA First-team All-NBA: 4

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

3. Shaquille O'Neal -- $286,344,668

Seasons: 19
Highest single-season salary: $27.7 million
Championships: 4
All-Star Games: 15
NBA First-team All-NBA: 8

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

2. Kobe Bryant -- $323,312,307

Seasons: 20
Highest single-season salary: $30.5 million
Championships: 5
All-Star Games: 18
NBA First-team All-NBA: 11

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

1. Kevin Garnett -- $326,362,956

Seasons: 21
Highest single-season salary: $28 million
Championships: 1
All-Star Games: 15
NBA First-team All-NBA: 4

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Wigdor also represents more than 20 current and former Fox News employees pursuing unrelated bias and retaliation lawsuits against their former employer.

The Knicks had a reputation for toughness and grittiness during Oakley's tenure, including in 1994 when they lost to the Houston Rockets in the NBA finals. Their last winning season was in 2012-2013. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Bill Trott)

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