I don't remember the last time James Dolan granted a proper sit-down interview. This may actually be the first time. But here he is, giving Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post several pages of stuff NOT just about his blues band. He actually talked about the Knicks in detail. You'd probably like to read the whole thing, and I recommend you do. Here, in order, is what stood out to me:
1. He has a son.
But the other guitar players in my band — one of whom is my son [Aidan] — are much, much better guitar players than I am.
I've never been able to figure that out for sure (which either speaks to Dolan's mystique or my incompetence), but there you go.
2. On Mike Woodson:
I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players. They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that’s part of where the respect emanates from.
When a coach loses a team … that’s when a coach is kind of done.
I really don’t compare myself with other owners. I’ll bet you I’m more patient than Mikhail [Prokhorov] is of his team.
4. Even with a 3-8 start, Dolan says he likes this team better than last year's team because last year's team wasn't built to last and crumbled after their 18-5 start such that they weren't fully staffed come playoff time. He does think last year's team would have beaten Indiana if healthy. I partially agree with him on both counts.
5. The section about firing Glen Grunwald and hiring Steve Mills is fascinating. Dolan hired a consulting firm, McKinsey & Company (that is the most consulting firm website I've ever seen. So many INSIGHTS.) and, with them, concluded that Steve Mills was better suited than Glen Grunwald to work "with technology, and what’s available to a team to help improve." He calls Daddy Grun a "more classic" GM and says "the job description changed", also pointing out that firing a GM right before training camp is actually the most sensible time to do that because while it's a busy time for the team, it's a lull period for management (Update: Yeah.)
6. Blah blah I don't read the papers fans are emotional they blame me for everything blah blah blah. [This is me making a wanking gesture.]
The players, the coaches, the fans know there’s somebody in charge. They may not like what I’m doing but it’s much better than having nobody there.
Are you sure? Go ahead, try us!
8. Isiah Thomas won't be back, indeed:
He lost a lot of games! OK. Do I think he deserves another shot? Yeah. It just can’t be here. And I think he’s talented. I think he’s particularly talented at finding basketball talent. But I think he’s probably dismayed at this point. But I don’t see him coming back to New York. I couldn’t do that to him, and I couldn’t do that to the organization.
9. Dolan says he would not take a mulligan on Amar'e Stoudemire's contract. He gives Amar'e credit for attracting Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, and he has faith-- because of Amar'e's dedication and discipline-- that he can work his way back into being a contributor.
the Carmelos, the LeBrons, the Durants
It’s OK right now not to be the best team you can be. Last year by the end of the year we were struggling. I’d rather see it go the other way. I’m not happy, believe me, about the record where it is now. But the warts that are showing up now are things you can work on, things you can fix. Now you test the character of your team to see if it’s willing or able to do that, if the coach is able to do that, to make those fixes. Can they win the championship? Yes.
Whoa … I love so many Eagles songs …
Fin. He spoke. He came off many ways. I sensed all of the delusion and questionable logic one would expect from Dolan, having watched the Knicks operate over the years, but I also appreciated that sliver of transparency (the consulting firm thing, mostly) and Dolan's...well, at least his attempt to have a sense of humor about it all. Granted, the baseline for comparison was absolute silence. This was not hard-hitting and we didn't learn much. While it's good that Dolan was willing to answer questions at a lean time for the Knicks, it's no surprise (as our dear friend was quick to harp upon) that it ended up in the Post and seemed to dance around certain topics and names (to pick a recent one off a long list: Chris Smith).
But hey, both Dolan and Steve Mills have spoken this season, and that's different, however contrived those occasions may have been. All that means much less to me than the Knicks getting their heads on straight and winning some games, but it does mean something.
Update: This one, pointed out by Jackaroe, is pretty great:
Mostly, I think it does not pay to be impatient, because you destabilize your team.
You don't say!