Aside from being the owner of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden, James Dolan plays many roles: he is the CEO of a massive cable company and an amateurish blues band frontman. He is also the single biggest reason the Knicks are the laughingstock of the NBA.
This week, much of the country was alerted to Dolan’s petulant ways through a leaked email that he sent in response to a message from an angry, long-time fan named Irving Bierman. Bierman simply did what all Knicks fans want to do, criticizing Dolan’s over-involvement with the team. In Dolan’s message, he attempted to deflect passionate yet valid criticism of his meddling with the Knicks basketball operations by leveling unfounded personal attacks against the fan.
Dolan called Bierman “a sad person,” and said, “I’ll bet you are a negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21 year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it.”
After the public revelation of Dolan’s email, NBA commissioner Adam Silver declined to publicly punish or scold Dolan, and Dolan himself was unapologetic, saying his response to the fan was “tit for tat.”
Despite his absurd response to a paying fan who rightfully asserted that he has derailed the Knicks franchise, Dolan refuses to even consider that the Knicks’ current plight is in any way his fault.
This episode is indicative of the ignorance Dolan displays when running the Knicks. Bierman and most other Knicks fans know that Dolan is the most to blame for the Knicks’ current position at the bottom of the NBA standings. The Knicks are the league’s most profitable franchise, yet the owner’s constant tinkering with the team’s staff has undone what little progress has been made over the years.
Dolan, who inherited control of the team from his father, has had the patience of a child when dealing with basketball operations. He has fired coaches on a whim, frozen out players and spent half a decade giving more and more executive power to his buddy Isaiah Thomas, one of the least effective coaches and general managers in recent NBA history.
The most recent staff experiment, in which Dolan has installed coaching legend Phil Jackson as team president, made it seem like the Knicks had some direction going forward. Even after a miserable first half of the season, Jackson allegedly has full autonomy to make whatever basketball moves he wants, but one cannot possibly think that Dolan will be able to keep his own ego out of the process of rebuilding what should be one of the premier teams in the NBA.