Earlier this week Deadspin dropped an extensive profile of Knicks owner James Dolan's burgeoning musical career. The heir to the Cablevision empire is portrayed as very passionate, very hardworking, and very rich.
We already knew about his connections with super-agent Irving Azoff and various members of The Eagles, but he really goes the extra mile to surround himself with the best musical talent, like vocal coach Don Lawrence, who has worked with the likes of Mick Jagger, Bono, Lady Gaga and Axl Rose. Per Dave McKenna:
"I didn't know him or who he was," says Lawrence. "He came in and told me he worked at Madison Square Garden. He was very unpretentious. So I said, ‘What do you at the Garden?' And he said, ‘I own it.' I said, ‘Oh ...'"
Dolan still leaves work every Monday afternoon to go to Lawrence's studio on the Upper West Side for 90-minute sessions, and he always does his homework. "He's the hardest worker I know," says Lawrence. "He's relentless. He doesn't stop! He is going back to music, and he has the desire to see this through. It's the most important thing to him. He studies, man. He's a beautiful singer."
Long Island's premier bluesman is currently on tour with Jewel -- "Jewel travels with us" on a private jet, Dolan boasted. He has augmented JD and the Straight Shot with some of the premier players on the Nashville scene. The band's latest album, "Better Find a Church" has earned praise on at least one music publication that Dolan doesn't actually own!
Please believe me when I say I'm 100% sincere in the following statement: Good for James Dolan. He's clearly serious about his craft, and he's using his largess to support hardworking musicians. Everybody wins, really. He has always sought out the biggest names, in music and in basketball. But the music industry is far more collaborative -- you hire great people, they jam with you, they tour with you, and then they move on to another band. It's not their job to out-scheme and defeat every other band.
An NBA franchise is far more business than art. An owner must hire the right people, get the hell out of the way, and give them the time and resources needed to build a team. For a long time James Dolan insisted on involving himself in the process, usually at the worst possible time and to the worst possible effect. The Knicks won't be picking in the first round this summer because, based on many reliable accounts, Dolan was convinced by CAA to trade for Andrea Bargnani over the objections of his own front office. He has only kept out of the Knicks' business twice, and both times it came when the organization was run by a basketball Hall of Famer. The fact that neither Phil Jackson nor Isiah Thomas made earned their reputations in an executive capacity never really meant much to him. He gets music advice from Irving Azoff and Joe Walsh; why shouldn't he get basketball advice from the heart and soul of the Bad Boys?
Knicks fans are plenty scared of Phil Jackson right now as he holds the sword of Kurt Rambis over our heads. Perhaps the Zen Master hurts the club's immediate future by sticking with his incompetent cronies. At the very least, he has ended for now the cycle of ruinous long-term contracts and traded draft picks -- a Knicks legacy that dates back even before the Isiah Era. For good or ill, he's definitely making his mark.
It is no coincidence that all this is going down at the same time Jame Dolan is focused squarely on his music career. Though beat writers will occasionally add a "Dolan is rumored to like Coach X" line to spice up their gossip columns, there has been no real indication that he is involved in anything Knicks-related. He's busy opening for Jewel, working on new material with his band. That's probably best for everyone involved.