NEW SLAVES: “Charles Oakley Effect” has players rethinking their future with the NBA

by DC Livers


( – When it comes to Black Athletes, few people have invested more time than me. Trying to catch the players doing good has been my thing since I started the Black Athlete Podcast series back in 2006. From baseball players to spending a week with Simone Biles a year BEFORE she became an Olympic standout, I’ve been honored that the athletes trust me with their stories and image.

To be fair, I didn’t really care if Carmelo Anthony came to the Knicks or not. I was actually tired of the hype. On the day he came, I had planned a fun day with my family and was more than upset that I had to scrap the plans at the last minute to attend a press conference announcing his new role. I even lost my $3500 camera in a taxi in front of The Garden rushing to the event so when I walked in, I wasn’t on the Carmelo Anthony bandwagon. But, my timing was good and I literally ended up walking about two steps in front of him and his entourage into the press conference. Looking back, it’s kind of describes the relationship I have with him. Unexpected. Laid back. But cool.

This year, I’ve been sponsored by MOTO cell phones to show off their new snazzy features that turn the phone into a projector and boombox. Their silly commercials go, “Hello Moto,” so I’ve kind of adopted a habit of saying to Carmelo as he walks into the locker room to talk with us, “Hello Melo!” It’s a silly thing I do to try to break the massive tension in the locker room.

Still, no one could have told me that years later after Melody became a Knick that I’d be one of the loudest people advocating FOR Carmelo Anthony, who is sure to be a future NBA Hall of Famer. I’ve literally been entwined in a Twitter beef with Frank Isola, a reporter who I always respected, over his #AlternativeFact reports on Carmelo. Watching Frank milk the situation feels like knowing that some bad cops who kill at will get overtime to fill out the paperwork. It just doesn’t seem right. Of course, Frank’s no killer and I don’t want to imply that he’s a bad reporter, because he’s a great writer. He just made some stupid decisions to trade his reputation in for some golden handcuff or behind-the-scenes perks with the Knicks brass.

Frank managed to leave out the fact that Carmelo Anthony has had EIGHTY (80) teammates, five coaches and two GMs since he came. That’s hardly his fault but it has not stopped everyone from pinning the tail on Melody like he is the Donkey of the Knicks all season.

There was already a ton of tension in Madison Square Garden this season before Frank decided to become a Fake News champion. Allowing a White former coach turned GM to call grown Black men out for not having fathers, to imply that they are dangerous, scary thugs or move in a posse like gang was never acceptable, but it has been condoned by the Knicks all year. So much so that Phil Jackson began to get real comfortable in that space. He all but donned a red hat that read: “Make the Knicks Great Again.” So, it’s hard not to argue that Frank’s obsession with Carmelo boiled over and led to the overreaction involved Charles Oakley. Surely, Frank Isola knew what was really going on. He knew that he was asked to “break” Carmelo. In fact, when Anthony spoke recently to the press reminding them that he has thick skin, it was Frank’s publication that ran an outlandish headline saying, “Carmelo sounds like a broken man.” It reminded many of the line in the movie, “Roots,” where the slave driver says, “You don’t buy a slave. You make a slave.”

All season, I’ve watched the behind-the-scenes tension divide the otherwise easy-go-lucky Knicks media. We’ve always gotten a long pretty good but after the Posse experience, the claws started to come out. The election didn’t help either. But when the Carmelo Anthony fake news drama started, it was like every other person was complaining about how lucky Melo was to be a Black man making money and playing in the league. It was like they punished him for being wealthy and Black.


Doc Rivers speaks on the Charles Oakley incident

A source close to the Knicks management said there’s a lot of talk of “how great it would be if the Knicks became the first team to have an all White team.” They’re on their way with awesome players like Kristaps Porzingis, Ron Brown, and other players coming from Europe. If that is really a motivation for the Knicks, it makes sense that the have to get rid of Carmelo Anthony. But the truth is the odds of the Knicks getting anyone to come to New York City after body slamming Charles Oakley is next to none.

Around the NBA, players like LeBron James, Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade spoke out in support of Oakley. But the former Knicks’ support wasn’t just one sided. White  supporters were vocal as well. Actor Michael Rappaport, sportswriters and even the fans who shot the now notorious video of Charles Oakley getting arrested admitted that he didn’t seem to have done anything to deserve to be removed.

If the Knicks motives were diversity driven, the support for both Carmelo and Charles Oakley has defied the effort. In one swift action, the Knicks managed to alienate their fan base, energize other players to avoid the Knicks and caused conversation so intense the organization has been trending for two days straight. If they sought to divide, their actions backfired and have been united people from all walks of life.

Even the Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, who found himself at the center of controversy after he nearly ripped the head off of a White female referee earlier this season, found it hard to conceal his emotions about the Charles Oakley incident.


The Knicks don’t seem to be backing down from this unwinnable fight. Oakley has little choice but to sue and the fans will be the biggest losers in what has become a disappointing season.