When you reel through the Getty Images of James Dolan you see him with all varieties of rich, famous and powerful people. Many of them arm in arm, big toothy smiles. You read Ian O’Connor’s smart profile on him and you get a glimpse into how the glib poet views himself. He oscillates between fair assessment and overcomplicated dishonesty. All told he’s an arhythmic oaf who sees a dashing, square jawed deal maker in the mirror. Madison Square Garden is his fun house.
He may indeed be a shrewd businessman. Contrarily he may just be in a position to have excellent hired help. People that make his choices clear. Like when Steve Mills and Scott Perry said, hey David Fizdale is the guy we want you to hire. They met with no one else and he was hired. Which is not to take a shot at Fizdale, the hire, the process of hiring him or the results thereof. He just tells his employees what he likes, those folks then take aim and seek his approval to fire. If that’s how it works for the Knicks, why would it be so different from his other endeavors?
For instance, is he the genius behind MSG Spheres? Is that what they taught him at SUNY New Paltz? Or is that what every squat madman envisions between banging gigantic rails of blow? It’s like a whole world of audio that totally takes over every sense you have maaaaan!
No. He’s simply the guy with the combination to the vault.
He claims not to even really think about the Knicks; who they hire, what it would be like if they won a championship. It’s almost inconsequential to him. He only cares about the bottom dollar of the $5 billion rough estimate it would take to get him to sell the team. An offer no one has ponied up.
The truth is probably more so that he would never get the amount of credit he thinks he so richly deserves for the team scaling such a triumphant mountain. He fears he would be made to feel like Joe Lacob at the Chris Mullin jersey retirement, as O’Connor wisely alludes to (which I can’t stress enough, you should read). Perhaps rightly so, he has been at the controls through nearly twenty years of being an NBA laughingstock. Constant overhaul and childlike impatience. From Patrick Ewing’s trade to Jeff Van Gundy resigning. From the coach who shall not be named takeover to the CAA takeover. The Phil Jackson era, the Isaiah Thomas era, the Scott Layden era. The Anucha Browne scandal.
When speaking with Adam Silver:
A very diplomatic answer, Mr Adam. He would not have climbed to this height on the strength of his unsuccessful collegiate efforts alone. Followed by his alcohol and cocaine abused pits of despair. He was placed into this womb of success by a much more dynamic and business savvy father. So is it “expertise” or is it poor performance and bad behavior that was gifted a powerful position? Something that he clearly flaunts when he’s out to exact revenge on someone who successfully shamed him.
Maggie Gray, of WFAN, did just that when she criticized Dolan for placing Isaiah Thomas in control of the Liberty. He decided to ban every single one of his employees from talking to that radio station. That’s the type of panicked power move he is most known for.
Meanwhile he says he doesn’t know how to make the Liberty a success despite having “pumped tons of marketing dollars” into the WNBA franchise. Call me crazy, but placing the man at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit that you lost may not be the sure footing you should be after. Supporting sexual assault and harassment magnate, Donald Trump, “as a friend” won’t do you any favors in that department either. Especially when he does precisely the opposite when getting out in front of de-friending Harvey Weinstein. This does not paint you in some angelic light.
The next time you see pictures of James Dolan with charismatic and influential people just remember that they are not his friends. They just know how to have a good time. They worked their way up to wherever they are and they get to feel comfortable in their skin. They are people he stands to gain some modicum of public approval from. That’s all he really seeks.
When he donates to charities, he is very likable. When he removes himself from centerstage he can be likable. He just happens to do spiteful things. He makes crude decisions, he thinks that is the primary job of a businessman. The business he owns that has the biggest facade just happens to be the city’s most cherished sports team.
Whether he sells one day or not, just know there will be some other rich shmuck doing some foul otherness waiting in the wings. Perhaps that fool will get it right.