"The Last Enforcer," Reviewed by Patrick Leggett
The Last Enforcer is a memoir written by Charles Oakley, with Frank Isola, and a foreword by Michael Jordan. A must-read for any basketball fan, The Last Enforcer chronicles Oakley's experiences in the NBA and the league's influence in his life. His recounting is given added perspective by Frank Isola, a sportswriter best known for his work with the New York Daily News, where he covered the New York Knicks from 1996 to 2018.
The Last Enforcer is about Charles Oakley and his experiences in the league that have influenced his life today. Known for his toughness and grit, Oakley was a distinguished player in the league. He was a player that was not to be messed with, which was a tough reputation to uphold in the extremely physical era of the ‘90s NBA. Oakley and Isola do a phenomenal job of navigating and carefully picking which experiences and people have impacted Oakley and why.
One experience that is important to note is when Oakley was banned from Madison Square Garden by the unpopular Knicks owner, James Dolan. This was seen as a knock on Dolan’s reputation more than Oakley’s in the long run, and the story behind it found its way into many headlines at the time. I felt as though when the event actually happened Oakley didn’t get the supportive press he deserved. This part of the memoir gives Oakley a chance to express his voice in the story, which is one that didn’t make its way into the headlines as consistently as Dolan’s. Like this controversy, the book includes a lot of input on Oakley, both on and off the court, from some of the game’s greatest personalities, like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, and more. The memoir shows Oakley’s highest highs and lowest lows as he relates to people from all different backgrounds, including his connection to George Floyd as a victim of police brutality.
The tone of this memoir amplifies Oakley’s influential voice. Aside from having the foreword written by one of basketball’s most influential figures, the depiction of Oakley’s impact is heard line by line as he defends every punch just as much as every rebound. Oakley and Isola make a great pair as they depict the trials and tribulations of life in the NBA and how a long career can take a toll on any person. This book explains why Charles Oakley is the true enforcer, and it gives his unapologetic humor a stage to shine. While looking back on the unforgiving nature of the NBA and the experiences that followed, Oakley doesn’t forget those who got him there and aided in his success.
The Last Enforcer
Patrick Leggett is a senior from Garden City, New York majoring in Communication with a specialization in Public Relations and Advertising. In his free-time, Patrick loves to snowboard through the winter and spend time on the beach in the summer. He plans on pursuing a career in PR upon his graduation in May 2022.