James Dolan and Charles Oakley won’t be talking out their differences Tuesday after all.
An appeals court had ordered the Knicks owner, the retired power forward and their lawyers to hold an over-the-phone mediation Tuesday. But according to a new order, only the attorneys are being required to participate, the Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported.
The mediation order stems from Oakley’s civil suit again Dolan and Madison Square Garden alleging he was the victim of assault, battery, false imprisonment and slander when he was forcibly removed from the Knicks’ arena in February 2017, leading to a scuffle with security guards and Oakley’s arrest.
A source told the Daily News that a conference call isn’t conducive to such mediation. A later face-to-face meeting is still possible, although the state’s stay-at-home order related to the coronavirus outbreak and Dolan’s own COVID-19 diagnosis would certainly be obstacles.
Last month, Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan dismissed Oakley’s lawsuit, saying: "Oakley grossly misunderstands the law concerning a landlord’s right to remove a trespasser from its property. The law is clear that the MSG defendants had the right to expel Oakley from the Garden and that his refusal to leave justified their use of reasonable force to remove him."
Madison Square Garden released a statement after Sullivan's ruling saying: “This was an incident that no one was happy about. Maybe now there can be peace between us."
After his arrest, Oakley accepted a deal with prosecutors that dismissed the misdemeanor assault and trespass charges against him after he stayed out of trouble for six months and kept away from the Garden for a year.
Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988 until 1998, helping them reach the 1994 NBA Finals alongside Patrick Ewing, John Starks, the late Anthony Mason and head coach Pat Riley. But he has had a poor relationship with the team because of his criticisms of Dolan.