New York Knicks owner James Dolan started his own news cycle when he engaged with and then banned a fan from Madison Square Garden events after the Knicks’ loss on Saturday. “Sell the team,” the fan shouted before Dolan had him kicked out of the stadium.
The entire 26-second exchange of words was recorded and subsequently published by TMZ.
“Do you not want to come to any more games?” Dolan said. “It’s an opinion,” the fan countered. “Enjoy watching [the Knicks] on TV,” Dolan said before walking away.
In light of that, Dolan made a rare media appearance, appearing on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN 98.7 New York to talk about that feud, as well as other Knicks topics. The interview somehow made one of the most hated owners in sports even more unlikable.
You can watch the full interview here.
Here are the four most ridiculous things Dolan said.
Dolan tried to play victim with the fan exchange, and it failed
Dolan called the dispute with the fan who told him to sell the team an “ambush,” and even went as far as to say that the fan was “stalking” him. He referred to a longer video which he claims shows the fan moving a few sections over to find him, and then said his belief that the fan had a pre-meditated plan to sell footage to TMZ was reason enough to ban him from the arena.
“If you have someone who comes in and plans on making a scene and being confrontational and ruining the event for other people including the owner, you can’t come back,” Dolan said.
Knicks & Rangers owner James Dolan explains why he banned a fan for life from Madison Square Garden. pic.twitter.com/RmSE0TnO9k— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 12, 2019
The dispute between Dolan and the fan came after the Knicks had already lost, though, disrupting nobody aside from Dolan himself. He could’ve chosen to ignore the fairly tame shouts from the fan.
Kay called Dolan sensitive during the interview, which he denied. But that was a theme of the entire 45-minute segment.
Dolan doubled down on banning the New York Daily News from press conferences
Dolan showed a clear disregard for journalistic principles and a fundamental misunderstanding for the purpose of reporters who cover his team when asked about the banning of New York Daily News reporters (most recently Stefan Bondy) from Knicks’ press conferences.
“There are certain journalists that actually wish ill-will towards the team,” Dolan said. “They don’t want to see the team win. They don’t want to see the team be successful. They have their own personal axes to grind. They’ve never written a positive story about the team.”
Reporters, of course, are not fans, nor are they obligated to write positive stories that are unwarranted.
“If they hate us that much, why are they there?” Dolan said after referencing the several years worth of negative articles written about his team.
Kay responded by saying that “people that read their paper care about the Knicks,” to which Dolan haphazardly replied, “So they’re just selling papers, you’re saying?”
New York Daily News sports editor Kyle Wagner issued a strong rebuke of Dolan’s comments.
Daily News sports editor Kyle Wagner’s response to James Dolan pic.twitter.com/Q0TQsfYlCx— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) March 13, 2019
Dolan later said that, in his eyes, the Knicks aren’t owned by the public, and he doesn’t work for the people.
“If I have a press conference and I’m going to announce something, I get to invite who I want,” Dolan said. “I don’t have to invite everybody. I’m not a public servant.”
Dolan said a ton of NBA free agents want to play for the Knicks
Kay pushed Dolan on the topic of banning that fan from MSG for such a minor occurrence, suggesting it only added to the team’s reputation for chaos and dysfunction. Will that affect free agency, when top-tier stars may want to come to New York?
“New York is the mecca of basketball,” Dolan said. “We hear from people, from players, from representatives about who wants to come.”
Amar’e Stoudemire is the lone all-star in his prime to sign with the Knicks in Dolan’s 18-year reign, though Carmelo Anthony likely would have had he not been acquired by trade. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have also been rumored to have interest in signing this summer.
Dolan cited NBA rules that prevented him from commenting on upcoming free agents, but then projected optimism anyway.
“From what we’ve heard, I think we’re going to have a very successful offseason when it comes to free agency.”
James Dolan is confident the Knicks will have "a very successful offseason when it comes to free agents." pic.twitter.com/4DEkv2yDOZ— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 12, 2019
Dolan accused Bill Simmons and a rival general manager of trying to sabotage the team’s free agent plans
Kay asked Dolan if he was indeed open to selling the Knicks, which was reported by Bill Simmons of the Ringer in February. Not only did Dolan deny his interest in selling, but he suggested that Simmons and his source is out to get him.
“So Bill Simmons, I mean, what was his source?” Dolan asked. “There are teams that do not want us to get free agents. Some in particular. He’s very close friends with the GM of one team. What they’re doing is they’re trying to destabilize us because they know we’re favored. They know free agents want to come to us.”
Was Dolan referring to Danny Ainge, the general manager of Simmons’ beloved Boston Celtics? Was he talking about Daryl Morey, the GM of the Houston Rockets and a frequent guest on Simmons’ podcast? It’s unclear.
Ultimately, Dolan didn’t win over the public’s opinion with this interview. He’s stated that he doesn’t make moves for PR, but in the process, he somehow made an unpopular decision to ban a fan from MSG feel even worse.