Dwyane Wade tells CSN why current NBA players respect Charles Oakley

Dwyane Wade tells CSN why current NBA players respect Charles Oakley

No matter the walk of life or a person’s status, coming across Charles Oakley means there’s an experience, an “Oak story” that’s embedded in your brain.

As long as you’re not the topic of an Oak story, it’s probably pleasant in some ways.

“Do I got an Oak story? You know I got an Oak story,” a wide-eyed and smiling Dwyane Wade said to CSNChicago.com Friday afternoon.

Wade was a soon-to-be-rookie in the summer of 2003 when he was working out at famed trainer Tim Grover’s gym in Chicago.

“Oak just randomly came in and played. Open gym,” Wade said.

The directives were clear from the regulars to the novices who hadn’t experienced Oakley in his glory in an open gym with no television cameras, no coaches and most importantly, no referees.

“And everybody was like, "Oak is in here today, you shoot jumpers". I'm like, man (screw) that,” Wade said.  “You know me, I'm an aggressive guy, go to the basket.”

“First time I get the ball, I go to the basket.”

From there, Wade’s education on the scrappy big man who didn’t take kindly to high-flying young players coming to his territory began.

“Oak picked me up. I jumped in the air to finish and he grabbed me out the air and said, 'don't come in here. Respect.'”

A grown man in his own right at 35 years old, Wade repeated himself for emphasis of the moment, back when the world was at his fingertips and his body could do things very few in the basketball world could imagine.

“He let me know. I jumped. He grabbed me. Just stopped me in my tracks,” Wade said. “’Respect’. They told me. Chill out, shoot your jumpers. That's my game, I'm an attacker. ‘Respect’. I ain't do it no more until he left (laughs).”

[RELATED: STL Podcast - What happened with Charles Oakley?]

So when Wade saw the disturbing scene of Oakley being dragged out by security guards who clearly looked as if they didn’t want to be the bad guys to the Knick great a couple days ago at Madison Square Garden, it struck a chord with him—as it did with LeBron James, Chris Paul and many other people from various walks of life who’ve had positive and memorable experiences with Oakley.

“Just obviously, you look at it from both sides. From an organization standpoint, I thought it was handled poorly,” Wade said. “And I don't condone violence either. I thought it could've been handled better. I don't know what was said or done but from some angles, seen from afar, with a player like Oak and what he meant to that city, it wasn't some fan coming in talking crazy. I've seen fans, heard fans talk crazy to me before and I didn't see them leave the way he left.”

Oakley and New York Knicks chairman James Dolan have had issues over the years, to the point that Oakley had to buy a ticket to get into Madison Square Garden as opposed to being afforded one by the organization he played for—played hard, played tough and played well for a decade after being traded from the Bulls after the 1988 season.

Wade saw it from two angles—from someone who knows Oakley as a man with principle, a man who doesn’t like to be touched in that way but also as a father to two young boys, knowing the rules for some is different than others.

Wade posted an Instagram picture in support of Oakley with a caption that included

You gotta understand who you're dealing with. You gotta understand Oak. When you go to Oak, you gotta know who you're going to. It was handled poorly. For me, man, it shows my message to players was just understand. As players, you're an African-American is to my kids, understand the world we live in. You're not above anything. I don't think no one would've thought with his 10 years in New York that one day Oak would leave that place on the ground, in handcuffs. It was sad. Real sad.

What incensed Wade even more was the perception being painted by Dolan that Oakley was some kind of raging alcoholic who needed to be kept away from the public. Depending on who you ask, Oakley either cursed at Dolan during courtside or his mere presence irked Dolan to the point where security was deemed necessary.

Oakley has gone on to defend himself in the public, doing numerous interviews to keep his reputation intact as opposed to the picture of him being a danger to regular people.

“You gotta know who you're going to. You're not gonna walk up on Oak like that,” Wade said. “It is what it is. But to paint him as this person who needs help? You ask every player in this league, every young guy in this league, man. Oak has been nothing but amazing to us. All our experiences have been great. Is he a certain way, a certain mentality? Yes. You gotta know that when you're dealing with him. But it was bad, man.”

Wade compares Oakley to a teammate he had in Miami, Udonis Haslem. A guy who played with a toughness that is no longer embraced in today’s NBA, and Oakley has never been shy about speaking out about the evolution of today’s game.

But unlike others, the relationship today’s players have with Oakley makes his strong words easier to take—and being honest, Oakley’s toughness isn’t something that even today’s players want to test.

[MORE: Dwyane Wade sends out support for Charles Oakley]

“I think it's two sides. He's been very vocal about players who couldn't play in his era,” Wade said. “He's been very vocal about that. About the game being softer. But he's been a supporter of players. It's cool to express your opinion but to just to express it through the media and it comes to the players a different way, but when you see guys and talk to guys and they can pick your brain, things like that, now the message is taken differently.”

From that moment in Grover’s gym in Chicago, Wade has been able to seek out Oakley and have conversations with him through the years, as have many others. So the outpouring of support and respect isn’t surprising.

“I liked the fact that though Oak expressed his opinion, he also has been a fan,” Wade said. “He's a big fan of players and he's been great. And you wouldn't expect it, I don't think a lot of people would expect it. Oak has been great with players and around the league, that's why you see players coming out in support of Oak. Because of that. he's done both. He's expressed his opinion but supported us as well. He's talked to you, it's not what he's said from afar. He's talked to you. We've had conversations, he's been in the gym with guys.”

It all comes down to one word for Wade, who probably has just as strong a sense of the word as Oakley does: Respect.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, See Red Fred joins Big Dave and Matt Peck. The guys talk about some big plays down the stretch by Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine. Plus a great defensive job by Kris Dunn on Paul George. (1:30) See Red Fred states his case for more playing time for Denzel Valentine. (4:00) Plus what's going to happen when Otto Porter and Chandler Hutchison come back. (8:00) The guys share some concerns about Coby White in the short term. (10:30) See Red Fred tells you about 3 players who have exceeded expectations this year. (13:00) Plus the guys debate whether Zach LaVine should compete in the dunk contest or 3 point competition. (18:00) They discuss the impact that Kris Dunn has had on the defensive end of the floor. (20:30) Plus See Red Fred lays out his blueprint for the Bulls to make the playoffs. (23:30) Plus the guys make a wager regarding the rest of the season. (25:00)

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders


Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Just over two hours before tipoff, in his first public comments since Media Day, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson talked about how Jim Boylen’s teaching and coaching hasn’t always translated from the practice floor and film room to games.

Could the Bulls’ first victory this season over a winning team be a step?

And don’t mention that the Clippers played without Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams in the Bulls’ 109-106 victory, secured on Zach LaVine’s three-point play with 2 seconds to play.

“Well, we didn’t have (Otto Porter Jr.) or Hutch (Chandler Hutchison) or (Daniel) Gafford,” Boylen said. “So we can ‘Yeah, but’ it a little bit too.”

Bravado aside, there’s stuff on which the Bulls can build here.

LaVine posted his sixth 30-point game and ended a week filled with closing misses with a game-winner in which he powered through a Montrezl Harrell foul on a nice misdirection play involving Kris Dunn. Lauri Markkanen tied his season-high with 17 rebounds while posting his third double-double of the season. Denzel Valentine, playing all but two seconds of the fourth, hit a huge tying 3-pointer in the final minute and scored a season-high 16 points. Thad Young tied his season-high with 17 points.

And Dunn was everywhere, relishing the challenge of guarding Paul George down the stretch and winning a crucial battle for a 50-50 ball that led to Valentine’s tying shot.

“That was a huge moment,” Boylen said.

So was Valentine closing a game.

“I just thought we needed some more shooting on the floor,” Boylen said. “We’ve wrestled with defensive lineups, offensive lineups. We try to mingle them a little bit. I just thought we needed someone to make a big shot. And he did.”

Valentine has now scored in double figures off the bench in five of six games.

“I’m very confident in my abilities,” Valentine said. “I was just waiting for the ball to come my way. Zach is our best player. So the ball’s going to be in his hands. But shoot, I’m ready for it. I love those moments. I love to make those shots.”

Dunn, who finished a plus-22, defended George as he missed a good look for a tying 3-pointer. George scored 10 points in just over 7 minutes in the fourth but missed all three attempts following Valentine’s tying shot.

“I love it,” Dunn said of guarding great players. “I know my niche on this team is to guard. And I take pride in that. It feels good to go against a big-time player and be able to get stops towards the end.”

Markkanen actually received credit for the rebound that Dunn kept alive to lead to Valentine’s tying shot, which Dunn said Markkanen teased him about. Dunn finished with nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.

But his two biggest plays didn’t even crash the box score. He won the 50-50 ball to lead to Valentine’s tying shot and then confused the Clippers’ defense by slipping a screen on LaVine’s game-winner.

“I knew Zach was going to get downhill,” Dunn said. “Because once I did it, I saw Paul George look at me.”

LaVine couldn’t believe how much space he had to operate.

“I’ll take it,” he said. “Once I saw the lane open up, I think there were like 5 seconds left. We were trying to get the last shot. But once the lane opened up, I tried to get a one-on-one. He’s a tough dude. I knew I could attack his body.”

LaVine missed game-winning attempts on an isolation 3-pointer against the Warriors and over a double-team against the Raptors. His three-point play offered a dose of redemption for a player who is never afraid to fail.

“You’re not going to be perfect. As much as people are going to show more of the bad than the good, I’ve had a lot of good times in the clutch as well,” LaVine said. “I try to make the right play for us to win. And I did that tonight.”

For one night, matters were more positive. The Bulls closed out a game against a good team and received multiple contributions while doing so.

Heck, Boylen even downplayed Paxson’s vote of confidence.

“We understand what we’re trying to do. We’re in step on what we’re asking our guys to do and play like and work like and care like,” the coach said. “I’m thankful for it. But I wouldn’t expect anything less.”