James Dolan’s Failed Leadership Has Made New York Knicks Most Hated  

The Knicks have been dealing with bad publicity in large part due to James Dolan‘s leadership for years and Knicks fans continue to complain but also continue to fill the stands and pay the exorbitant prices to enter a building that was once known as The Mecca of hoops.

Despite the team’s futile winning percentage over the past two decades, being New York’s team and having access to the diverse collection of fans, gives Dolan’s franchise a voice and platform as extensive, impactful and important as any.

He had a chance to help the city which has been ravaged by protests the past week. Instead, he chose to go silent and censor the spirit of his organization. Respect for Dolan around the league and among his employees has hit rock bottom.

MSG might have a protest on its hands.

Dolan’s unpopularity has grown, believe it or not, as he is at odds with the people who make his operation go as they gathered in a private meeting to discuss Dolan’s refusal to comment on the recent George Floyd assassination and the resulting protests across the nation and around the world. 

If we needed any reminder as to why the Knicks are not only the NBA’s most detested franchise but also one of the league’s most unsuccessful, look no further than its leadership.  As a Knicks fan and New Yorker, it’s especially hard for me to endure all of the losing and the drama and mistreatment of our most faithful supporters. 

Dolan was supposed to be turning things around by now.

He hired Leon Rose, one of the top agents in the game, to help him recruit stars after the embarrassment of losing both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the rival Brooklyn Nets in 2019 free agency. He hired former music executive Steve Stoute to help rebrand the Knicks’ image and regain some lost fan support. 

But before any of these guys could put a plan in motion, Dolan gets in the way again with a miscalculated move. 

From the embarrassing incidents with Charles Oakley and Spike Lee to his riffs with ticket holders inside and outside of the MSG confines, Dolan has alienated his own team, fans, and the rest of the league. He’s also known as a corporate bully, so he doesn’t have many friends amongst his billionaire peers either

I commended Dolan when he hired the first All-Black front office, but it didn’t last long as they were blamed for Dolan’s inability to lure superstars to the Knicks. Teams without names don’t win in the NBA. It’s that simple. Dolan’s reputation is so bad, that if the Knicks are to return to an elite level, it will have to be done by either him selling the team or getting lucky on numerous Draft picks. 

Nobody wants to come here and it has nothing to do with the city or the people or the opportunity or the fame or the money which is as accessible in the Big Apple as anywhere in the world. 

Dolan tries to be progressive at times and throw a bone to his basketball community here and there; cleaning the cupboard for Carmelo and signing Phil and talking big about free agents we are going to pursue. But Dolan will never be fully invested in anything or anyone he owns. The people have been begging for Mark Jackson to be coach. Jimmy doesn’t care. 

Insulting players and fans don’t hurt business, especially when your franchise is worth the most in the NBA.  However, when your labor force decides to rise up, the machine can lose legs very quickly. The possibility of a walkout or protest is minimal considering the effects of COVID-19 on a country rife with unemployment, but the fact that MSG workers gathered in private a meeting to discuss Dolan’s silence is so significant. 

Dolan’s last bastion of defense is turning on him because by mandating that no one speak or even give their opinion about an issue that has rocked the entire world and led to a week of violent standoffs between police and young citizens across the nation —  as well as peaceful protests by the most distinguished leaders of politics, sports, entertainment, and industry — he’s displaying tyrannical, inconsiderate leadership and once again ignoring the fact that it’s the people that make you great and the money that makes you rich. 

When will Dolan start trying to be a great man? Silencing the oppressed and sitting on an inheritance doesn’t make you anything but lucky. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.