This Week In Sports Law: Charles Oakley Can Sue Knicks, Sports Betting In Maryland And Beyond – Forbes

Charles Oakley May Be Considering Defamation Suit Against New York Knicks

Former professional basketball player Charles Oakley has been banned from Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly the biggest news in sports this past week that could lead to a legal dispute involved former New York Knicks player Charles Oakley and the fallout related to him being thrown out of Madison Square Garden. The Knicks approach to the situation is what many are now talking about after Oakley was escorted from the arena.

James Dolan, Chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, banned Oakley from attending Knicks home games, accused Oakley of having anger management issues and suggested that Oakley is an alcoholic.

“To me, I think that Charles has got a problem. I’ve said this before. We’ve said this before. We said it one time that he’s his own worst problem. He has a problem,” said Dolan. “People need to sort of understand that. He has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know. But those behaviors of being physically and verbally abusive, those are personality problems.”

For what it is worth, Oakley’s wife has stated that Oakley does not have a drinking problem.

Oakley’s attorney has said that he will deal with these statements in a court of law, and many people believe that Oakley may have a strong case of defamation against Dolan and the Knicks. Potentially working against Oakley is that truth is an absolute defense to defamation claims (if the statements were true) and that Oakley is a public figure, which means that he will likely have to prove that Dolan acted with actual malice to recover based on any reputation damage. This is fleshed out in a Sports Illustrated article by Michael McCann.

Maryland Looking To Possibly Legalize Sports Betting

There are many states, Maryland now included, that are considering legislation to legalize sports betting within their borders. This is true despite the continued existence of a federal law that precludes full-fledged sports betting outside the borders of Nevada.

The new legislation in Maryland surfaced on Thursday, and explicitly seeks to avoid a challenge with the cited federal law. Instead of creating a battle with the federal government, the Maryland bill would establish a task force that studies the implementation of sports gaming in the state and makes recommendations for a regulatory scheme should the federal roadblock be cleared.

Other states that are considering sports betting legislation include New Jersey, New York, Michigan and Mississippi.

President Trump Wants More Info Before Taking Position On Sports Betting

On Super Bowl Sunday, President Trump sat down with Jim Gray to discuss a few hot-button issues, including the potential of legalizing sports betting across the U.S. President Trump refused to take a position, preferring to punt the issue until he speaks with major professional sports league commissioners.

“What I’d do is I’d sit down with the commissioners,” said President Trump. “I would be talking to them, and we’ll see how they feel about it.  Some would not want it, and probably others — and I’ve read others maybe do.  But I would certainly want to get their input and get the input from the various leagues, and we’ll see how they feel about it.  I’d also get the input from lots of law enforcement officials, because, obviously, that’s a big step. So we wouldn’t do it lightly, I can tell you. It will be studied very carefully. But I would want to have a lot of input from a lot of different people.”

Writer Bart Hubbuch Sues New York Post

Staying on the topics of New York and President Trump, sportswriter Bart Hubbuch was recently fired by the New York Post for publishing anti-Trump tweets. Hubbuch has since filed a lawsuit against the New York Post, alleging that it unlawfully discharged him from employment based on his legal recreational activities outside work hours, off premises and without use of the New York Post‘s equipment or other property.

Hubbuch claims that he published the tweets “outside of work, on his own time, under his own name, in his own home, from his own Twitter feed, and without the use of any of the Post’s equipment or other property.”

He also alleges that he was told that he would not be fired if he apologized for the tweet. Hubbard did apologize, but was never reinstated.

Darren Heitner the Founder of South Florida-based HEITNER LEGAL, P.L.L.C. and Sports Agent Blog. He authored the book, How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know.

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