As a kid growing up in the ‘90s, Madison Square Garden stood out as the New York’s version of Taj Mahal. The beauty of the arena appealed to me and every visitor in the world. Just going around the arena felt special with the area being busy and active all 365 days a year. Every day seemed like an event. No matter what took place. Might as well be Garden of Eden in real life back then.
Then, Cablevision CEO James Dolan took over Madison Square Garden and the teams that play there. Losing occurred for both the Rangers and Knicks under his failed leadership. The Garden turned out to be filthy just going inside and it’s clutter all around outside. It’s more like an eyesore now than one of the seven wonders of the world.
The atmosphere stinks at Madison Square Garden. Dolan priced out the middle class and lower class as soon as he ran the organization. The corporates took over, and they created a sense of apathy rather than passion at Knicks and Rangers games. It’s like being at a mausoleum. There’s no zest that comes out of games like you see at Citi Field, MetLife Stadium, Nassau Coliseum and Prudential Center.
The Knicks drew news for the wrong reasons again this week. It started with the guards getting on Spike Lee for using the employees entrance on Monday, a quicker way to get to his seats than go past the long line. When they argued with him to get off the elevator while using that entrance, he refused and then they confronted him to the fifth floor and demanded he leave the premises. Cooler heads prevailed when Lee went to his courtside seat, but he brooded to the point he let it all out on ESPN’s First Take the following day by trashing Dolan for creating this mess. Then, apparently the Garden security threw out a group of fans the other night for chanting “Sell the Team” on a night the Knicks drew their smallest home crowd in nearly 13 ½ years Wednesday night, failing more than 3,200 below capacity in a 112-104 loss to the Utah Jazz.
Dolan does not get it, and he never will. This guy behaves like an entitled brat. He knows fighting with the fans and Spike Lee is a no-win situation, yet he does it anyway. Ego and pride no doubt make him behave that way. It’s the same attribute that will never make him sell the Knicks. He wants the credit for turning the Knicks around when it happens, even though it hasn’t happened ever under him.
He should realize something. These incidents with the fans create bad optics as the former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson would say. It creates a distraction his players don’t need. One would think he would get it a long time ago, especially when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving decided to play for the Nets rather than deal with Dolan’s nonsense.
He doesn’t care apparently because he keeps doing it over and over and over again. This behavior started three years ago when he threw Charles Oakley out of the arena because the long-time Knicks tried to confront him. Then, he threw a fan out of the arena last year after he screamed “Sell the Team” to Dolan.
For me, this grew old for me to the point I stopped rooting for the Knicks this summer. I experienced enough to last a lifetime. I withdrew from the Knicks. I have no idea how good their young players are doing. I do know they stink.
As Oakley mentioned to ESPN Radio’s Golic and Wingo show, NBA commissioner Adam Silver should examine what has gone on with the Knicks and at the Garden and take action. For the commissioner to do nothing, it would make him weak and out-of-touch. The Knicks should be Silver’s problem because Dolan’s incidents represent a bad look for the NBA.
Look, I don’t care for Lee. He’s a blowhard that behaves like a fool at games, but when Dolan deals with incidents with fans, it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. With the team being so bad, one would think Dolan would behave like an adult by just dealing with it. After all, his players deal with the booing and heckling, and it can’t be fun because they can only do so much playing for an incompetent organization. But they behave like the adults in the room while Dolan behaves like a person that is even worse than a 5-year-old.
It’s hard for the Knicks to be ever good as long as Dolan is involved. Even though the Rangers are competent, they haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1994 and they underachieved in the playoffs under Dolan’s watch, so the praise he receives for taking care of the Rangers is laughable.
Whatever Dolan touches, it turns into crock. He does not have the Midas touch indeed.
Karma exists for a reason. When a guy like Dolan behaves like a jerk, bad things happen. He doesn’t care since he is making his money.
It’s the fans that bear the burden, and so does the Garden that represents the scarlet letter.