2nd Team PF: Charles Oakley
- Stats from 1988 to 1998:
- 10.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.2 STL
If John Starks was the heart and soul of Pat Riley’s Knicks, and Patrick Ewing was their leader and warrior, then Charles Oakley was their backbone, their rock, their, for lack of better phrasing, oak foundation. Oakley, the big man from little known Virginia Union, made tougher and better players out of the likes of the late Anthony Mason and Charles Smith, and provided a toughness that brought the franchise to stratospheric heights in the ’90s, despite those teams never coming away with a championship.
As head coach Stan Albeck and Doug Collins’s enforcer in Chicago, Oakley gave the Bulls an edge that earned him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1986. His tenacity in the Windy City would lend itself to the vision Pat Riley had for the Knicks when Oakley was acquired from Chicago for Bill Cartwright.
Despite his interior presence, Oakley had a soft touch and a nearly automatic mid-to-long range jumper that alleviated the pressure of going to Patrick Ewing or John Starks too often on offense.
In 1994, in the midst of a riveting NBA Finals run, Oakley would earn a nod on the NBA All-Star squad and a selection on the NBA All-Defensive First team, a feat he would similarly replicate by landing on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 1998, his last season in New York. Also during the ’94 run, Oakley played in 107 straight games, including the entire regular season and a 25-game playoff stretch, an all-time single season record and mark of Oakley’s tremendous durability.
With Chicago, Oakley would lead the league in rebounding in two consecutive years (1986-1987 and 1987-1988), and would later average double-digit rebounds in four of his ten seasons in New York.
Be it on defense or on the glass, Oakley, in the mold of Dave DeBusschere, embodied what it meant to be a roughneck, blue-collar Knickerbocker.