Though Charles Oakley (shown slapping Scottie Pippen around, above) is unlikely to recant his earlier promise that he “won’t be coming back cheap”), the noted Jordan wingman / car wash magnate tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Branson Wright, “my presence and teaching [the players] how to play better defense,” could be just what LeBron’s Cavs need to measure up against a Western Conference foe.
Oakley, a 6-9 power forward and center, said the Cavs could have used his knowledge and skills in the finals against the Spurs, who dominated the inside with Tim Duncan and with uncontested drives by guard Tony Parker. The no-nonsense Oakley, rumored to have smacked around a few players off the court, would not have any of that.
“They lost to San Antonio because guys didn’t know the next step on defense,” said Oakley, whom the Cavs drafted in 1985. “The Cavs are not a good help defensive team. . . . When I come back, I’m going to bring an attitude. I’m not coming back just to be on a team. I’m going to come back and go all out.”
Johnny Clark, who was the assistant player development/shooting coach when Oakley was with the Toronto Raptors, said LeBron James would benefit from Oakley’s presence just as Vince Carter did several years ago. Back then, Carter was fearless when he went inside for monster dunks. Carter knew who had his back if he was on the other end of a hard foul.
“Other teams need to know that a superstar has a teammate who will step up in their chest if the superstar gets knocked down or receives a hard foul,” Clark said. “LeBron would definitely have that with Oakley as a teammate.”
Oakley said he is still in great shape. “I run three miles per day, lift weights, take shots in the gym and I still play,” Oakley said. “Everyone’s going to get old, it just comes down to how did you take care of your body and I’ve taken care of myself. I guarantee, if I get into someone’s training camp, I’ll end camp as one of the top eight players. It just comes down to if you want to deal with me.”