Charles Oakley launched a clothing line last week. My dad, who likes to be obnoxious when you say things like “launched a clothing line,” would ask “So you think it’s news that he’s hanging his clothes up outside?” But no, he has started some brand of clothes and he is selling it in New York City at a place called K1X. This may be old news, as I mentioned on twitter yesterday, I’ve been trying to write this post forever but I keep turning it into a bio on Oakley.
He basically invited whoever wanted to come and he’d answer questions about whatever in hopes to get some publicity for the clothing line, called “Oak Collection,” and to clarify, the brand it’s under is K1X. By all means, check them out: K1X.com Seems like something straight out of the HBO show “How to Make It In America,” with multi-cultural faces, ballers, and an attempt at repackaging the same clothes under a new brand, not to rip it, but I buy my clothes in bulk at Sam’s Club.
Oakley sat down and proceeded to rip on just about anyone that the New York Post or whoever else was there could care to bring up. Most of it is Knicks related. Oak said things ranging from “they don’t want nothing to do with me,” as far as the Knicks organization; to “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” as related to Mike D’Antoni and his system; to “Amar’e’s good, he’s good in his way,” Oakley said yesterday at the launch of his clothing collection at K1X’s store in SoHo. “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.”
I guess he thinks, that New York should stay the same. That same plodding, rough, mean, nasty style of play that was there when he, Patrick Ewing, John Starks (and before him Mark Jackson) and former Charlotte Hornet Anthony Mason were there should be the style that defines the Knicks forever. I don’t really know what he’s talking about as far as being “East Coast” or “West Coast;” it’s not like we’re talking about Biggie and Tupac here, we’re talking about basketball and styles of game. Carmelo Anthony may have played in Denver until last season, but he’s from Baltimore and he went to Syracuse and had some of his biggest college games in the Garden. Mike D’Antoni is from West Virginia of all places, and yeah, he’s got an up-tempo system in place and not a “sit on the block, wait to elbow the guy in the head as you spin to the basket” approach to the game. Amar’e Stoudemire is from Florida, which is like New York/New Jersey south and while he’s not a banger, he’s no European style center/power forward that likes to play away from the basket.
I don’t get any of those comments. I guess it’s all part of Oakley’s persona, and that toughness and even that goon mentality he played with has carried over to where he’s got a chip on his shoulder towards the Knicks. I’d be pissed if I was one of the faces of the most successful period a franchise had and they didn’t want anything to do with me now, but all this insinuating people are soft or whatever he’s trying to do is a bit, well, goonish.
Tommy Beer, other than having an awesome name, wrote about the excursion to K1X last week for HoopsWorld.com, but his was much better than the New York Post’s and he asked about things that people might actually care about: The Charlotte Bobcats. I’m not going to regurgitate everything off of HoopsWorld, but it’s good, read it and come back, we’ll talk about it in the next paragraph.
Oakley, first of all, seems set in his own mind that he’s still part of the team and still a member of the organization. Oak missed the final 13 games of the Bobcats’ season with some back issues. He all of a sudden one day collapsed on the sideline just before warm-ups and had to be helped to the locker room by Bobcats players. He had surgery in Early/Mid July according to Paul Silas (via Mike Cranston on Twitter) and was due for another but I’m not sure if that’s happened. He claims it was all part of the beatdown he took at the hands of 5+ members of the security staff at the Aria Hotel Pool in Vegas. We’ve discussed this and how touchy it is for a member of the organization to be suing one of the corporate partners of that organization, but Oakley has had health issues stemming from that and missed work and could lose his job because of it.
I asked Oakley directly on twitter last week “Hey
@CharlesOakley34 are you going to be back with the Bobcats next season whenever that may be?” and his response was: “ @therobertogato i hope” He says in that interview (via HoopsWorld): “We just got to keep that going; it’s a building process.” So, Charles Oakley thinks and hopes he’ll be back with the Charlotte Bobcats whenever the NBA starts up again. The question is, do the organization, Paul Silas and his old pal Owner Michael Jordan, agree? That remains to be seen. But the interesting question is, if he is still a member of the organization, under the rules imposed by the commissioner in the lockout, his entire interview is a violation. Previous violations, as reported and only related to owners so far, have cost the involved parties $100,000 each occasion. Michael Jordan has already been assessed a $100,000 fine for his comments to the Australian News Paper, the Melbourne Herald-Sun. So, is Oakley still held to this standard and will the league office come down on him as well? What about the organization? Would a second infraction increase the penalty?
His comments on the Bobcats and specific players are priceless. Oakley, still keeping up that tough-guy stance, talks about how Paul Silas and “his son” and he came in and brought in “some toughness and make the guys more hungry.” He talks about Kemba Walker very favorably, well of course he does. Kemba is after all from New York, the most tough city and the most East of all East Coast cities. (“East” there means something you might not understand, not a geographical determinant) I like Kemba too, but I want to hear more out of an assistant coach than “swagger” when asked about a draft pick.
When it relates to Kwame Brown, I think those two will be inexorably linked for a long time. Kwame Brown simply got better once the coaching change was made. You can almost feel, reading the quotes from HoopsWorld.com that Charles wants to take full credit for Kwame’s solid play in the second half of the season. He starts out by saying something that leads me to think that Oakley suspects Kwame would be a great player if he had been with him from the beginning. He all but says that Kwame is going to get paid and Oakley had a lot to do with that. He gives Kwame the credit of having a good body? “he’ll get paid. I joke around but with a body like that; you’re getting one of the best bodies in the league.” What does that even mean?
Finally, probably my favorite part of the interview, we reach the big guy, Mr. 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…” Drinking coffee, hmm, somehow? I don’t know how, but somehow, relates to your ability to play basketball. For Oakley it does anyway. Boris, we all know, is different. Whether it’s his tweets, his hotel in France, the great bar/restaurant Mortimer’s in EpiCenter or the whole Segway to the arena and inside it; we all know Boris Diaw is different. Again, I want more than throwaway, fun, salacious lines out of a supposed assistant coach.
Charles Oakley is just one of those guys. Badass, goon, tenacious competitor, tough-guy, New Yorker, and most of all, for his status as it relates to the Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Jordan’s friend. I would never say that Oak isn’t welcome, isn’t good enough or isn’t experienced enough or any of that. He’s got charisma and leadership qualities, that intangible gift that helped the Bobcats come back from a bad start with Larry Brown. He was a great addition to Paul Silas’s coaching staff, but I’m afraid, he’s been replaced. I would happily remind Oak that “his son” is Stephen Silas and the “other guy” is Ralph Lewis, and the guy that they’ve brought in who is a front line specialist is Rob Werdann.
It’s nice to have clothing lines, or lines dedicated to you or whatever it is that K1X has going on. It’s great if you want to bash your former team, the players of that team and Lebron James, Erik Spolstera and whoever else he wants to say something about. I love stuff like that; hell, I’d encourage it from all those great retired players that we all loved and still hold a spot in our collective basketball memories. I just don’t know how I feel about a guy who is supposed to be a member of the Charlotte Bobcats coaching staff, spouting off about everything under the sun, possibly to the detriment of the team and possibly at a cost of a starter home.