The New York Knicks in the 1990′s were very near and dear to fans hearts. It was tough to let each individual player go, but all good things must come to an end. Last Throwback Thursday, we reminisced on Patrick Ewing’s first game at Madison Square Garden as an opponent. Although Charles Oakley wasn’t a lifelong Knick like Pat, it was still equally disturbing to see him suit up as a Toronto Raptor.
In hindsight, the Raptors could have done some damage with a young core of Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Marcus Camby, but by 1998, they were looking for some veteran mentorship. Enter the New York Knicks, who had plenty of experience to offer and were looking for a mini-rebuild around a Patrick Ewing who still had enough left in the tank for a championship run. Almost right after the 1998 NBA Draft, the Knicks dealt Oakley, who spent a decade fighting (literally) for the blue and orange, in exchange for an injury plagued Marcus Camby.
It wasn’t until February of the next season that Oakley would return to New York City. He wasn’t particularly happy with the trade, but it was hard to show his dissatisfaction as fans showered him with as many cheers any opponent could ask for. The Knicks would win the game, but Oakley showed to be his same old self, diving in to the crowd for loose balls and making his presence known to anyone who dared to enter the paint. He finished the game with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 turnovers, which wasn’t far off his season averages by that time.
Unfortunately for Knicks fans, Oakley didn’t ride off in to the sunset like most would have liked to see him do. He bounced around the Raptors, Bulls, Wizards, and Rockets over his final six seasons, averaging just 5.0 points and 5.5 rebounds until retiring in 2004. The end of his career was highlighted more by the games he played with his hair than the games he played on the court.