Billionaire Bully: James Dolan Suing City Of Inglewood, Steve Ballmer

When billionaires in this country have an agenda, no “regular” person is safe, especially if that money man is New York Knicks and MSG mogul James Dolan who only sees one color when accessing any potential business situation: green.

You’d hope that he would have his hands full trying to turn the Knicks from laughing stocks of the NBA to a franchise worthy of the NY jersey again. But he doesn’t see it that way. The Knicks are the NBA’s most valuable franchise so he’s winning.

He’s not playing chase the chip. He’s playing capitalistic chess at the expert level.

He preys on the voiceless.

And defiles his own legacy just to feed his ego.

Instead of at least changing his philosophy for the good of New York City and a rich basketball tradition that is sinking faster than Dolan’s dreams for The Forum in California, he’s too busy trying to use his wealth and influence to put his foot on the neck of anything that could potentially benefit the less privileged.

In this case, the city of Inglewood, California which has a 20 percent poverty rate and could benefit tremendously from a new NBA arena that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer — who acquired Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason — intends to build.

That’s if Dolan would stop riding his bike on Ballmer’s side of the block.

According to reports, Dolan has been attempting to derail the development plans of the low-income city since 2017, even attempting to influence Inglewood’s mayoral election in November.

At the same time, he’s in a financial tug of war with Balmer, that seems more personal than practical.

Two years ago, Inglewood announced it was entering exclusive negotiations with Ballmer on building a basketball arena just about a mile from The Forum.

Ballmer intends to move the Clippers into the new arena by 2024 when his lease expires with Staples Center. With the franchise finally in a position to emerge from the Lakers’ shadows, having its own arena is long overdue.

Dolan and music mogul Irving Azoff (the guy who supposedly convinced Dolan to hire Phil Jackson back in 2014 as Knicks President) purchased The Forum in Inglewood in 2012.

The two moguls formed a joint venture, Azoff MSG Entertainment. According to reports, MSG then claimed to spend between $40- $100 million in renovations with the idea The Forum would become a premier entertainment and concert venue in Southern California when it reopened in 2014.

The five-year partnership ended when Azoff bought Dolan’s part of the business, but Dolan is still tight that Ballmer threw a wrench in his plans to cop a piece of LA.

No, Dolan doesn’t care about the underserved city of Inglewood or the state of California, but he envisioned an entertainment venue that would attract A-list celebrities and make a killing financially.

Then, in 2016 Inglewood and long-time Mayor James Butts announced it was entering exclusive negotiations with Ballmer on building a basketball arena just about a mile from The Forum, which would undoubtedly affect Dolan’s plans, but could be a massive economic come up for the struggling city.

Mayor Butts, who was re-elected in November,  is behind the project 100 percent.

“There will be over 1,000 construction jobs,” Butts told the Daily News. “It’s going to bring in millions of dollars in property tax and ticket tax and sales tax revenue which we’ll use for city services, increase public safety, improve our library service, improve our parks, street resurfacing. It’s a win-win for the community all the way around.”

With plans for The Forum now threatened by Ballmer’s project, Dolan has spent a lot of money in lawsuits, trying to sue the city of Inglewood, protect his investment and halt the construction.

Dolan went as far as to contribute close to $1 million dollars to religious conservative mayoral candidate Marc Little, in hopes that Little would unseat Butts and help Dolan and the celebrity friends that he pulled into the project such as Kris Jenner, prevent the community from securing a new NBA arena.

From that point on it became a battle of the billionaires. Neither side is budging in its quest to control fertile land that is ready to be gentrified, remodeled and taken over by corporations as public and affordable housing is torn down and minorities are priced out of the mix.

Dolan tried to buy himself a mayoral candidate that would do his bidding and that failed.

So now, Dolan’s crop of high-priced lawyers must try and concoct a legal argument that he was in some way mislead by the city of Inglewood.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver even tried and failed to pitch a compromise to Dolan and broker a meeting between the Knicks owner and Clippers owner.

The Daily News has been diligent in exposing Dolan’s hypocrisies.

In retaliation, MSG issued a statement attacking the Daily News, claiming a Tribune Publishing Company executive has it out for the Knicks owner, like so many other people these days.

“This story, based on cherry-picked portions of a deposition that are grossly misleading, is just the latest evidence of how low the Daily News is willing to go with its attacks.”

Azoff, 71, claims he was tricked by Mayor Butts into terminating a lease to a parking lot that was essential to the Clippers’ proposal.

According to the Daily News,  “Azoff continues to work with Dolan to squash Ballmer’s project by filing lawsuits — including for breach of contract and fraud against Inglewood — lobbying politicians, funding a community group’s lawsuit against the arena and launching PR campaigns.”

When asked if he considered the ethics of supporting a candidate with nearly $1 million in out-of-state funding, Dolan answered:

“The concept of getting – of having the city abide by its agreement and helping the Forum be successful, that was in my mind.”

Mayor Butts and the City of Inglewood aren’t shy about their criticism of Dolan’s business tactics.

“They spent a lot of money on an election here, for a candidate who didn’t live here,” Butts told the News. “They said he moved here 30 days before the election. More money was spent on that candidate than in the history of elections in the city.”

What makes it worse and blatantly shady is the fact that Dolan claims he backed Little, despite knowing very little about the candidate. It was an end to a means.

Dolan is no stranger to using his money, political and celebrity affiliations to pull to read other people’s projects.

According to the Daily News, “Several years ago, he successfully worked a campaign to block the construction of a football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. In that case, he thwarted the Jets, Mayor Bloomberg, and labor unions because he feared competition with Madison Square Garden.”

So we know he’s territorial about any opposing business venture that could hinder his profits.

The NBA isn’t happy. A new building would ease scheduling problems with the Lakers in Staples Center. The City of Inglewood isn’t cool with a guy who lives on the other side of the country trying to buy his way into the community with strong-arm tactics.

Dolan’s running out of cards to play, but he does have one Ace in the hole.

MSG can also file a lawsuit asking for a preliminary injunction, which is meant to maintain the status quo and keep Ballmer from even starting construction.

Dolan’s even donated huge bags to several community groups that share his desires to see the new stadium projects thwarted, but for very different reasons.

He’s using groups with potentially legitimate concerns about gentrification and rising costs of living that naturally comes with projects of this magnitude as well as the air pollution, traffic congestion, noise and construction that is entailed.

Mayor Butts says the group are bogus and funded with MSG’s money.

The more we find out about James Dolan, the more we understand why the Knicks are a very low priority to him. He’s not a basketball fan, that much is clear.

He’d rather use his money to exploit and gut communities, play billion-dollar bingo against other billionaires and show his devious brilliance in other ways besides winning NBA Championships.

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