|Report: Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal cited in Charles Oakley’s assault lawsuit||07.15.11 at 11:45 am ET|
This past season, when Charles Oakley was hired by the Bobcats as an assistant coach in January, Celtics guard Ray Allen openly wondered why it took so long for a team to give Oakley a chance to mentor younger players in the NBA. Now, we might know why, and Allen’s teammate Jermaine O’Neal might have to answer for it.
A group of Las Vegas security officers are countersuing Oakley, seeking damages of at least $20,000 for a May 2010 incident — during which Jermaine O’Neal was reportedly present — that they claim was the third of a series of assaults by Oakley on Vegas casino employees since 2005, according to business journal Vegas Inc.
Oakley had sued them along with the Aria hotel and casino on May 12, claiming the officers physically attacked him following an argument at the hotel-casino’s Liquid pool. Oakley missed the final 13 games of the season with back problems he claimed stem from this incident, and the Bobcats have since hired assistant coach Rob Werdann as a potential replacement should Oakley not be able to return to the bench next season.
Here’s the passage from the Vegas Inc. website that indicates the current starting Celtics center was present when the incident went down:
Monday’s claim says Oakley was at the Liquid pool at Aria with friends including current Boston Celtics player Jermaine O’Neal when Oakley, who had several large alcoholic drinks, became agitated because it was near closing time and “he and his friends were not allowed to invite additional females into the pool.”
What resulted, according to the countersuit, was a series of events that bring back memories of Oakley’s enforcer days on Pat Riley‘s 1990s Knicks teams. Oakley threw one pool employee off a patio table to the ground, pushed a security officer, threatened others, kicked and punched a few more, elbowed a couple more in the face, spit on another one, swore and “threatened to knock people out,” according to the claim.
While O’Neal is not linked to any of the assault and battery charges, he could be asked to testify about the incident since his name is cited in the legal documents as a potential witness. Of course, you’ll remember O’Neal was present for another infamous brawl: The Malice in the Palace. Based on the information at hand, it appears unlikely O’Neal would face any suspension as a reportedly innocent bystander at Oakley’s scuffle.
This appears to be a case of “he said, she said” with Oakley claiming the security officers assaulted him, and those guys saying the exact opposite occurred. Regardless of who is telling the truth, it’s clear why it took so long for Oakley — whose gambling exploits have long been documented — to find an NBA coaching job. And when he did, it was his notorious gambler friend — a guy by the name of Michael Jordan — who hired him.
Is someone who once attempted an NBA return at the age of 43 — seeking a ridiculous $10 million while claiming it wasn’t about the money (I’m sorry, but that screams gambling debt) — really a good mentor to younger players?