The legendary former NBA player Charles Oakley made a guest appearance on the ‘James Posey Podcast’ where he talked about his illustrious NBA career, which lasted for 19 seasons. Despite playing for a few years with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan, Oakley made a name for himself in a Knicks jersey when they were a real powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. During those years, they presented a real challenge for Jordan and the Bulls on their way to those championships.
The Knicks had a fantastic group of players like Patrick Ewing, Oakley, Anthony Mason, Mark Jackson, Doc Rivers, John Starks, and on top of that, they were led by the legendary coach Pat Riley. The Knicks were a tough team that played physical basketball, and in some ways, reminded everyone of the Bad Boys from Detroit. They even took the Bulls to seven games in the second round of the 1992 playoffs, but in every playoff series, it seemed they were missing little something that would get them past the Bulls.
According to Oakley, he thinks they had a chance of beating the Bulls if they had a different strategy in place. He believes they could’ve done a better job on defense, trapping more and pressing their players. Oakley admits the Bulls outsmarted them every time they’ve beaten them, and it seemed they were always one step ahead.
We fought really hard and a lot of games we didn’t have enough points. A lot of games we should have trapped early, play different zone, especially against the Bulls. We played checkers, and they played chess. They would press us, and we weren’t more athletic than them, but we were more bigger and stronger. But at times, I feel like we could have pressed them, full-court or soft press on them because Pat was a shot blocker. That is why you press a lot when you have a shot blocker.Charles Oakley, via BasketballNews
It feels some of the blame for their losses Oakley puts on Pat Riley the most because of his inability to adjust the way the team is playing. Oakley said Riley nurtures a system in which he has full control with not a lot of room for creativity, and despite the fact he respects him, he didn’t do enough to put them in place to win against the Bulls.
Pat Riley is one of those coaches where it’s going to be his way, really controlling. He gets you ready like a fighter for the fight, but when you get into the ring, you need to know how to fight and do other things too.Charles Oakley, via BasketballNews
Even though the Knicks never won a championship during that period, they were close in 1994 against the Rockets but fell short in game seven. The Knicks are remembered as one of those classic teams from the ’90s and a real rival to Jordan and the Bulls. They were a hard-nosed squad we don’t see in the NBA anymore. Whether they could’ve done something differently is up for the discussion, but they had multiple shots at the Bulls and other teams and always fell short by a bit.