"Hey Oak-Man!" yells Trent Tucker from across the room where brunch is being served at the Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, N.Y. Charles Oakley stands in a lime green ensemble (complete with equally lime green shoes) by an empty table, plate in hand, getting ready to chow down on some quality breakfast.
Oakley is here to support Tucker, his old Knicks teammate, at his charity's Celebrity Golf Event, where golfers spend the day playing with athletes and other celebs to benefit the Trent Tucker University Scholars Program and The Max Cure Foundation, which devoted to research of rare pediatric cancers.
But Oakley won't be golfing. He's still undergoing some physical rehab that he says won't allow him to swing the club too effectively, so he's simply there to support his buds, many of them former teammates, on their own day out on the green. (When asked if he was rooting for one particular friend to kill it on the golf course, Oakley just says, "I'm not rooting for anyone. Just Tiger Woods every Sunday.")
So what else has Oak-Man, the legendary Knick, been up to lately? Well, talk to him over an Oakley-approved bacon breakfast and you'll see that the answer is ... a lot. Just call him the Oak of All Trades -- he has plans to break into and succeed in almost every industry ("except acting," he points out) -- including that of predicting the records of New York football teams.
"I was at the Jets game the other day," he says, although quickly making it clear that when it comes to picking between the Jets and Giants, he simply chooses New York, and tries to get himself to two or three games for each team every season.
"It was a great performance," he says of the Jets' surprising 48-28 opening day win over the Bills. "It was an impressive win, and Sanchez looked good. He played a good game, other than that interception during that first drive."
As for that other quarterback the Jets have on their team? "You know, when you're trying to build something, when you're trying to build a team, the other guy's gotta wait his turn," he says. "You play who you play."
He says we'll just have to wait and see what happens, because the Jets seem to have "perpetual bad luck." But he does think they'll finish with a promising 10-6 record -- the same record he predicts for the Giants. So, both New York teams are playoff bound, then? "I don't know. Where does 10-6 get you these days? That's where they'll end up."
As for the NBA, Oakley's not quite as talkative. "I'm not really excited about it," he says. "I don't play anymore, so why should I be excited?"
And he says there are "too many bad teams" to get pumped about watching. Predictions for the Knicks? "Just like the Jets. We've gotta wait and see."
Not that Oakley's used to doing much waiting -- he's got quite the lineup of interests to tackle in the meantime. He's working on his own fashion line -- which perhaps illustrates why he's so impeccably matched in green today, is working on releasing more of his strength training materials, including the Charles Oakley workout band to be worn around the thighs, and says he's working on producing a movie -- although is resistant about any future acting career other than perhaps a short cameo.
And then of course, there's his passion for food, which he makes clear when he turns to me, amidst bites of bacon, to tell me the food at this brunch is "delicious." He says he's working on his own cooking show, with different chefs, athletes and celebs joining him in what he calls his "Oakley Café.
"There are already a few old episodes on YouTube, but he plans on expanding it further. "I love cooking. I just cooked for over 100 people the other day," he says casually, while picking at said delicious bacon. As for the Oak-Man's specialty dish? "I just know how to cook everything."
After he wipes his plate clean, he says it's just about time to head out to watch his friends do some golfing. But not before he analyzes one more sports league for me. When he asks where I went to college and I reply with an excited "Go Blue!"
He stares at me and responds, "No. Not against Alabama. That was embarrassing."
The Oak-Man has spoken.
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