Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Legendary Oak

When the pantheon of Chicago sports greats are mentioned there is a name that is consistently and unfairly absent from all these lists. A mountain of a man from the blue collar city of Cleveland but has made a mark on Chicago that very few athletes in this city have yet to attain. The legendary figure to which I am referring to is the man simply known as The Oak.

Confused? You shouldn't’t be. The exploits of former NBA power forward Charles Oakley should be recited to every man, woman and child. Stories that remind us that if you are blessed with one super power it should be the ability to be as bad ass as anyone on the planet, which coincidentally the Oak does possess. I know what you’re thinking, “how can the starting power forward from the Chicago Bulls during the late 80’s be so important?” While his impact on the court as Michael Jordan’s enforcer was fairly important it is not the crux of my argument. No, it is his role as Michael Jordan’s chief club cavorting comrade that is the foundation on which the legend of the Oak has firmly been built. In fact the rumor for years was that he was traded to the Knicks for 7’1 center Bill Cartwright not because the Bulls were in desperate need of a tough big man, I mean it doesn’t get tougher than the Oak. No he was traded away because of management’s concerns on how he would affect Michael Jordan the league’s burgeoning superstar.

One of my favorite alleged stories involving Oakley occurred where the majority of his misadventures occurred, a Chicago nightclub. You see he had quite reputation as being a ladies man and this night was no exception. He saw a particularly ravishing young lady and sauntered over to introduce himself as the dashing lothario that he was but he ran into a roadblock. The roadblock? This vixen had a boyfriend. This did not deter the Oak. The boyfriend eventually mustered up the strength to stand up to the 6’9, 245 pound power forward with an affinity for fighting. It appeared for a second that Oakley’s heart had softened as he saw this man stand up for his love so he walked away.In actuality he walked over to the coach check, laid down a heap of 100 dollar bills and took the young man’s coat. He then walked outside, set the coat on fire, and calmly reentered the establishment and alerted the young man the situation he now found himself in and it prompted his immediate exit to retrieve his seared garment. The rumor continues with Oak walking over to the girl and neither one of them going home alone.

Did this story happen exactly as the rumor tells? I’m not sure, but for a legend of his magnitude I really wouldn’t doubt it.

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