A season filled with losses and speculation continued on Wednesday when Charles Oakley claimed that Amazon CEO and big time billionaire Jeff Bezos has aspirations of buying the Knicks, and although James Dolan has declared the team is not for sale, Bezos is one person who actually has the cash to make an attractive offer.
Oakley, the former Knicks bruiser who is one of the few players not currently falling under the “Once A Knick, Always A Knick” marketing slogan, made the claim while filming some content for The Ringer with Bill Simmons and Jason Concepcion. Simmons, of course, has been mysteriously drumming up hype for a potential sale of the Knicks all year, despite Dolan’s public pronouncements to the contrary. We’re living in strange times, folks.
The whole thing begins with Concepcion questioning Oakley on the idea that Bezos wants to buy the Knicks.
“I heard that,” Oakley says in response. “Jeff Bezos wants to buy the Knicks. He was going to try Amazon in Long Island, and he went to Virginia. He still [wants] to do some real estate in New York. Why not buy the Garden?”
Why not, indeed!
Before we begin erecting a shrine for Oakley, it’s important that we acknowledge the other thing the fan favorite power forward said to Simmons and Concepcion. According to Oakley, it’s unlikely the Knicks sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, because the team is not managed well.
“I think they’re going to get Kemba and Butler, before KD or Kyrie,” Oakley said.
Alright, let’s run with the first thing Oakley said — welcome to NBA ownership, Mr. Bezos! — while ignoring his guess that the Knicks are going to land Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler. Both are very good, if not great, players. But they aren’t the haul we’re hoping for.
It’s been a strange season for Dolan, who in December told ESPN that while he isn’t looking to sell the team, he has a responsibility to shareholders to consider a bona fide offer if one were to materialize.
In February, Simmons excitedly reported on his podcast that people in the know told him during All-Star Weekend that Dolan is “courting offers” for the Knicks.
“It’s happening,” Simmons said. “It’s on. It’s go time.”
Madison Square Garden Co. quickly denied the report, issuing a statement saying “the story is 100 percent false.”
Last month, Dolan doubled down on his denial, telling Michael Kay “no, we’re not selling the team.
“I regret saying what I said before,” Dolan said.
Dolan may not be actively looking to sell the team, but if Bezos were to suddenly put forth an offer that knocked his socks off, the Knicks and Rangers owner would have no choice but to consider it. He has admitted as much by noting the whole duty to shareholders thing.
All of this begs the question of whether Bezos would be a good owner. He certainly seems like a busy guy, so perhaps he would be down with hiring the right people and keeping his hands mostly off the team. Although Dolan claims he is hands off, there are rumors that he has meddled in the past, such as the time he supposedly forced Donnie Walsh to give the Denver Nuggets everything they wanted so the Knicks could get Carmelo Anthony, or the time he apparently vetoed a trade that would have netted the Knicks Kyle Lowry.
Removing the stink of Dolan could do wonders for the franchise; even though it appears that Dolan simply wants to win and is willing to spend money, the results simply haven’t been there. Minus the 2012-13 campaign, the Knicks have been a disaster for two decades. Perhaps it’s time for an ownership change.
Anyone who is unsure of whether the Amazon CEO is the type of guy they would want running the Knicks should take some time to read his February post explaining how the owner of the National Enquirer attempted to blackmail Bezos by publishing “intimate photos” of him. Bezos published the details of the intimate photos they supposedly had — for example, a “below the belt selfie,” and “a naked selfie in a bathroom.”
“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,” Bezos wrote. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
One wonders how Dolan might react if something similar were to occur. It’s a safe bet to say that he wouldn’t produce a well-written account of what happened like Bezos did. We’ve already seen how Dolan handles minor controversies, like the time he recently banned a fan from MSG for yelling at him to sell the team. Simply put, Bezos is a boss. Dolan, while technically the boss, is not a boss in the way Bezos is.
This could all be complete speculation, or we could be on the verge of Bezos becoming the savior of New York. All we can do for now is wait to see whether Bezos will put his money where Oakley’s mouth is.