Word is bond: The gospel of the Oak Man

I might be in here somewhere

Charles Oakley said a lot of provocative things in his one-hour media session at K1X on Saturday, most of which have already been printed elsewhere. (I’m sure you’ve already heard his take on the current-day Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire and Isiah Thomas.) Transcribing an hour of Oak was a bear, but I enjoyed every minute of it, and I wanted to share some more of his comments after the jump, along with my take, after the jump.

Oak on Erik Spoelstra: “The biggest thing is management. A lot of teams have all these scouts, and people in charge that never played basketball, but that’s what they’re going to. They’re going to guys who just shoot videos, work guys out and feel that they understand the game. It’s not that easy.  Miami’s guy, the guy they got coaching, I mean – he’s a good video guy, he’s under Pat Riley. But, you know, be real. This guy can’t coach. They can say all they want, but they brought three superstars together and said, ‘He did a good job.’ Nah, he didn’t do a good job. He smiles too much. He looks good on the bench. Pat Riley looked good in L.A. and won a championship, so maybe he’s like, ‘I’m going to make a superstar.’ But I think… Pat Riley’s going to have to come back and coach the Miami Heat.”

Oak clearly views Spoelstra as too green and too pretty to lay down the law with entitled superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Is an ancient Pat Riley better suited for this role? Probably, yeah. LeBron respects Riley as a godfather of the game and presumably wouldn’t pull some of the nonsense he does with Spoelstra as his direct supervisor. And this is always a possibility with Riley, that he sours of his protégé and wants to win more championships.

Oak on Game 7 in the 1994 NBA Finals: “I don’t think about it. You can’t keep thinking about stuff from 1994. I’ll always remember we went to the Finals, but I didn’t just think about Game 7. When you lose, it hurts you so bad, that you don’t want to keep thinking about losing. It’ll just corrupt you – ‘You maybe should have won it.’ We had a couple of chances to get back, we just didn’t get back. Like the Texas Rangers – last year they lost, and they got right back on trail to get back. That’s what you want to do: When you lose, the next year you want to get right back and win.

“I feel like when I was in New York, I gave them all I could, all I had, at all times. They have nothing to hate me for. I didn’t win, but I gave effort. I just try to give a lot of heart and leave it all on the line. I think the fans are top-notch fans, they say what’s on their minds. I appreciate if they boo, or say whatever they’re going to say, because it makes you more grounded. It shows you still have work to do, or need to get better in some areas.”

Oak seems relatively at peace with the life he leads now, but it sounds like if he has any regrets, it’s that the Knicks didn’t beat the Rockets during that two-year window when Jordan was playing baseball. I mean, he says he can’t even think about Game 7 because it upsets him. (I know the feeling…)

Oak on Isiah: “My door is always open to the Knicks. I tell them all the time. They said something I told LeBron to go to Miami. I was like, ‘Ya’ll have to be one of the craziest organizations in the world. Y’all should have tried to call me and talk to me, and maybe we could get LeBron to New York. You went to Isiah and some of these other guys that don’t even know the guy. LeBron… we have conversations all the time. He asks me questions…’

“I don’t even understand how [Isiah] got a job with management, number one. He had nothing to do with the Knicks. Then he talked bad about the Knicks. If I see him, he’d better turn around and walk the other way.”

Oakley was pretty clearly joking – or at least half-joking – about beating up Isiah. I wish he were stone cold serious. The stuff about getting LeBron to come here, he’s just providing another contrast between himself and the odious Isiah Thomas.

Oak on the Heat/LeBron: “I think they’re going to win because the league doesn’t have the talent, and they’ve got all the talent. Dallas is getting old. L.A.’s got a new coach, so they’re going to be a whole different team, but I don’t think they’re going to do too much. They need another point guard. Miami, you’ve got three superstars. I think they need someone to make big shots down the stretch. They’ve got three marquee players, but I think Bosh is their best shooter, but they don’t go to him down the stretch.

“I wouldn’t put [LeBron James and Michael Jordan] in the same conversation. Michael Jordan took a while to win championships too, but had a different swagger. If I would compare anybody to Michael Jordan, it would be Kobe Bryant. Point blank.

“I know LeBron well. He doesn’t have what Michael had. I like LeBron a lot. I think a lot of these commentators are really killing him, but they take him for granted: This is what he’s got.”

A big deal was made about this, but it probably shouldn’t have been. Who doesn’t know this already, that Jordan had a certain something that LeBron just doesn’t have, even if (when) the Heat start winning championships? It’s not a slight to say any player isn’t like Jordan. It’s like saying, “He’s a good actor, but he’s not Johnny Depp.”

Oak on his relationship with fans on Twitter: “You don’t want to talk too much if you don’t make sense. I try to make sense. Something I might say is crazy, eyebrows might go up, but I like what I say.

“I don’t do it like a lot of people do – ‘I’m going to Burger King, I’m going to the bathroom, down to Stop and Shop’… you don’t want to embarrass yourself on there.”

Oak is hilarious.

Oak on current players: “I don’t know, they respect me. I don’t have a problem with young guys. I see something wrong, I tell them. I don’t like a lot of the things they do, but at the end of the day, what they’re like is up to them. … A lot of people, they disrespect the game. I think management lets them disrespect the game.

“You can’t separate yourself hugging and shaking everybody’s hands after the game, but if that’s what they want to do, more power to them. I mean, I’m trying to get an edge every game, because I’m an underdog.

“I see a lot of guys doing a lot of talk shows… I think in New York, you’ve got to get your job done, or do another job. I think the fans, they see you taking it lackadaisical like you accomplished something just coming here, they’re not going to give you respect. You’ve got to grind, show you’re here to do your work.”

Oak sees a pretty clear divide between himself and the current breed of player. I’d imagine very few modern-day players can earn his respect. Maybe Reggie Evans, or Serge Ibaka.

Oak on specific players: “[I like to watch] Westbrook. I like Deron Williams, but I don’t know what happened to his game. It seems like he left Utah, where he had a great coach, and he got fired… They let players dictate too much. I like Chris Paul. Dirk is good.

“I don’t think a lot of guys reminded me of myself when I played. I mean, people say Dennis Rodman, but we’re different. He was one of the best rebounding power forwards, but he couldn’t shoot and I could. … I mean, he did dumb stuff; I didn’t.

“Don’t misquote me. I wasn’t friends with a lot of guys in the league. I was friends with a few other guys. I wasn’t friends with Barkley, though.”

Oakley obviously wasn’t a fan of Deron Williams winning his war with Jerry Sloan, saying he left his game behind in Utah when he was traded to the Nets. Deron was just banged up down the stretch, though. He’ll be fine.

Interesting how many guards Oak lists among his favorites, and how few forwards.

Oak on Mayweather-Pacquiao: “I like Mayweather, but I like Pacquiao, too. I’ve been waiting for them to fight. Mayweather may have a strategy to get $100 million, but you owe it to the fans to fight Pacquiao. I don’t care what he’s on. Find out what he’s on, and get on the same thing.”

As usual, terrific advice from Oak.


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