Latrell Sprewell attended Sunday's New York Knicks- San Antonio Spurs game as a guest of the organization, sitting next to owner James Dolan, four days after fan favorite Charles Oakley was physically removed from the arena and arrested.
Sprewell and Dolan had long been at odds. Sprewell, who helped lead the Knicks to the Finals in 1999, screamed obscenities at Dolan in his first game back at the arena in 2003, following a trade from the Knicks to the Minnesota Timberwolves, leading to their icy relationship.
"I can't tell you why I haven't been back here, but I'll tell you when I left, I was not happy," Sprewell said to ABC. "New York is like a second home for me. I love the fans here. The fans have embraced me. There's no place like the Garden to play in. I mean who wouldn't want to play in the Garden?"
Dolan was flanked by ex-Knicks on Sunday. Bernard King was seated to Dolan's left and Sprewell was to his right. Ex-Knick Larry Johnson was sitting next to Sprewell.
"I'm just happy to be back now," said Sprewell, who got a warm reception from the fans Sunday. "A guy named Johnathan [Supranowitz, Knicks vice president of public relations], I've kept in touch with him over the years and he worked his magic and he was able to pull some strings and get me back."
Johnson, a Knicks employee, told the New York Daily News that he was conflicted about attending Sunday's game after Oakley's arrest on Wednesday.
Two days after Oakley's arrest, the Knicks announced that he was banned from Madison Square Garden indefinitely by Dolan. The owner suggested in multiple media interviews that Oakley has a drinking problem, which Oakley denied on Saturday in an interview with the New York Post.
Knicks fans peppered the arena on Friday with chants of "We Want Oakley" and "Free Charles Oakley." Dolan says that the organization ejected Oakley because he was being verbally abusive to security. Oakley was charged with three misdeanor counts of assault for striking Madison Square Garden security and one misdemeanor charge of trespassing.
The organization's decision to invite Sprewell to Sunday's game was likely no coincidence. The reaction to the club's handling of the Oakley incident has been largely negative.
Asked about the Oakley incident on the ABC broadcast, Sprewell called it "disappointing" and "unfortunate" and that it was time to "iron it out and get past it."