The Charlotte Bobcats announced today that Charles Oakley will not be returning as an assistant coach. ”Oak” came in with Paul Silas as a member of a skeleton crew that was thrown together to replace fired Head Coach Larry Brown and his staff, just before Christmas last season. He joined Silas’s son, Stephen Silas and Ralph Lewis. Lewis had been an assistant in Seattle/Oklahoma City for 5 seasons and previously was a head coach of a D-League team. Other than being coach’s son, Stephen Silas worked his way up, with his dad of course, but surviving on his own talents while his dad was retired. He was poached from the Golden State Warrior’s bench when his dad was hired to take over the Bobcats.
Oakley, well, ol’ Charles had no experience as a coach. He was a player for a long, long time in the NBA and certainly served as mentor to several young players and developing rosters through his time in uniform, but after his retirement, he basically was Michael Jordan’s buddy, if I can put things so generally. He had interests away from the basketball court, such as car washes and restaurants and clothing lines, but no coaching experience was neccessary to fill out the Bobcats stable of assistants in a pinch late last December.
He was a welcome and valued addition, that is, until he had back problems that required surgery and news of a lawsuit broke late in the season. The lawsuit wouldn’t be a big deal, and really doesn’t appear to be to anyone except me, if it was anyone but a corporate sponsor of the Bobcats. Oakley claims he was forcefully removed from the VIP pool at the Aria Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas and was taken into a back room and beaten by up to 9 members of the Aria security staff, leading to back issues that led to him collapsing before a Bobcats game and causing him to miss the final 13 games of the Bobcats season. If in fact, he lost his job because of said back issues, he has more to heap on that law suit.
He was a great fit for a young team that had been beaten into submission by Larry Brown and his “system first” and “run the play all the way through” mentality. You can give him a good heaping of credit for the improvement of Kwame Brown last season. He definitely was that guy who sort of lit the younger guys up. The Bobcats roster, well, I wouldn’t call it soft, but there is no one near the player as far as tenacity and toughness as Charles Oakley and he brought that to them, or brought it out in them depending on how you want to look at it.
He might not get another assistant coaching job. It’s not like he needs the money, I don’t think. It was a one off deal for Oakley and the Bobcats. Because of the need to get people in fast and because of the “softness” with the young roster and with his relationship with Michael Jordan, he was the guy. Going forward though, it was just too much going on with an assistant that doesn’t have any sort of pedigree or experience.
It’s sort of like a psycho girlfriend. Yeah, she takes good care of you, different from girls you dated before and she’s hot and cool, but there is just too much going on there in the drama department to make the rest of it worthwhile. Oak had the back problem, the law suit, the comments during the lockout and it just probably got to be too much for both sides really. Throw in the lockout on top of that and yeah, we’re better off with Rob Werrdann.
All the best to Oakley, and I hope he still comes around to games with his old pal MJ. Thanks for helping Kwame figure out he’s 6’11″ and freakin’ HUGE! Good luck with your suings!