Former NBA vet/fashion plate Charles Oakley was the guest of honor at Friday’s Heat/Raptors tilt, with hosts Toronto lavishing 5000 Oak bobbleheads to the early arrivals. The Toronto Star’s Dave Feshuk had the presence of mind to ask Oakley if ever envisioned such an honor (“well, I have a head, so you never know what can happen.”)
He was asked how he’d fare in today’s NBA. “I’d foul out in the first quarter.”
He was asked about his two years as an assistant coach in Charlotte a while back.
“I got some headaches watching film. I got a chance to see (today’s players) first-hand. It was pretty bad.”
Oakley’s immutable critiques— he’s been tsk-tsking the softness of NBAers since he was still throwing elbows among them — remain a lot like his playing style, rough and unapologetic, and certainly too harsh for the uber-sensitive present.
“It’s hard to watch. It’s a different game. There’s some good games and a lot of bad games,” he said. “More bad games than good games these days.”
Oakley, for all his matter-of-fact disses of current players — “You don’t have to be strong to play this game no more,” was another — wasn’t a cloud of negativity. He said he’ll be involved in next year’s all-star weekend festivities in Toronto and heaped lavish praise on the 416.
“Wait ’til you get there. You’ll be amazed,” he said, explaining how he’s been defending Toronto to its doubters. “Clean city. Got just as much as New York going on. Less crime. So at least you don’t have to worry about all that stuff.”