It was the first night of February in 2005 when the New York Knickerbockers found themselves playing in Denver against the Nuggets. It was a Tuesday and the Knicks were coming off a January in which losses had collected as thick as pine needles beneath a Christmas tree. Not surprisingly they fell behind the Nuggets early in the second-quarter; they were demonstrating a listlessness that was becoming their trademark. MSG announcers John Andariese and Mike Breen were showing more spirit than the Knicks and were growing increasingly incensed with the lacadasical play and the timid way in which Kenyon Martin was being escorted to the basket by the very men charged with defending him. Every time K-Mart would throw down another dunk and pound his chest as he skipped up the court, Andariese would become further infuriated. He kept explaining to the home viewer that he wasn't upset with Martin, rather with the Knicks big men for letting themselves be embarrassed. Possibly with the exception of Tommy Heinshon up in Boston, I don't think I've ever heard an announcer who wanted to see someone get knocked to the floor so badly. In spite of his growing dementia, you just knew that Andariese was right on the money when he asked, "How do you think Charles Oakley would have reacted to that?"
And, then, for the first time in my life, I wondered aloud "What would Oakley do?"
Oakley would have sent K-Mart six rows deep as soon as he started skipping back down the court. He woud have given Martin six stitches and gotten himself a six-game suspension. All would be right with the world. The Knicks might still have lost the game but the Nuggets would most assuredly tread lightly in the paint during the next few meetings between the teams.
From that moment on, "What Would Oakley Do?" became my watchwords whenever dealing with Knicks.