Does climate chaos reach the afterlife? How else to explain why it’s snowing in Hell?
“We think it’s likely that after that is done, James Dolan, who controls the company, will sell the teams”— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) August 16, 2022
— Longtime MSG analyst Jonathan Boyar tells CNBC that Knicks & Rangers parent MSG Sports likely to sell after Vegas concert venue MSG Sphere is completed next year pic.twitter.com/p9eP5geBZn
Before you crack open that champagne you been holding onto for just this occasion, remember that whenever James Dolan does sell the Knicks, odds are it’ll be to some gargantuan corporate Voltron that sees them as an investment and not a public trust.
In the clip above, Mr. Boyar mentions a couple of prominent minority shareholders who may be looking to become the majority shareholder: Silver Lake, a private equity firm, and Nassef Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire. The franchise has pretty much always been owned by companies, not people. Unless Mets owner Steve Cohen decides he wants to be the most popular person in NYC history, odds are the next owner won’t give us a face to attach to them.
Still, let’s not undersell the first glimmer of hope this fanbase has had regarding who has their hands on the wheel. An ownership change would not merely be transactional, but transformational. Even with Dolan showing encouraging signs the past few years, his time in power has at best been endured and for many has been Hell. That’s what happens after nearly a quarter-century with nearly as many winning seasons (5) as Isiah Thomas scandals (3 — Zeke as coach/GM; as sexual harasser; as president of the Liberty despite being guilty of sexual harassment).
In a city where the Wilpons were infamous for being cheap and Hal Steinbrenner’s determined to rein in the Yankees’ spending, Dolan has never been afraid to spend money, though considering MSG’s received an undeserved property tax exemption for 40 years — one that’s always climbing, worth $50M in 2016 — spending money is the literal least he can do. Moving on from Dolan could change everything around the team, from the culture of the franchise to sweeping front office changes (on the business and/or basketball side of operations) to the halftime entertainment (Dolan switched to family-friendly fare to soften the vocal kvetching that often carried over through halftime).
Maybe the Knicks will finally re-sign a first-round pick. Maybe a coach and GM last three years or more together. Maybe they become a “model of intelligent management.” Maybe. For the first time ever, really, the fans are free to dream of a better world. That’s where it starts. In dreams.
UPDATE (6:34 p.m.) Wake up, sleepyheads. I received an email just now from Natalie Ravitz, senior VP of communications and marketing at MSG. She wrote, and I quote, “We have no plans to sell either of the teams.” So, sound and fury again signify nada.