While players and front office executives get most of the attention, a good owner is a key component to any franchise’s success. Ideally, they’ll shell out enough money to keep the team relevant without meddling too much in sporting affairs; there’s nothing worse, after all than a businessman trying to micromanage his on-field investment. Across the world’s professional sports leagues, there are plenty of good and bad owners. It’s safe to say the New York Knicks fall into the latter category.
Despite playing in arguably the world’s dominant media market, the New York Knicks have fallen on some tough times. Who owns the franchise? Is it time that he sells the team for good?
The New York Knicks’ fall from grace
When you play in an arena that’s nicknamed “the Mecca of Basketball,” you should be one of the NBA’s leading teams. Unfortunately, the New York Knicks have fallen off a cliff in recent years.
Ever since the early days of the Basketball Association of America, the Knicks were a solid club; that trend continued into the NBA era. The club won two NBA titles in the early 1970s, with players like Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, and Dave DeBusschere running the show. They returned to dominance in the 1990s, thanks to Patrick Ewing, but never could make it over the hump.
During the 2001-02 season, however, things started to change. Jeff Van Gundy suddenly resigned as the team’s head coach; without him, they failed to make the playoffs. Since then, the Knicks have only reached the postseason four times. While Carmelo Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire briefly brought some optimism to MSG, the franchise has turned into a laughing stock. Between consistently failing to sign a meaningful free agent, consistent on-court struggles, and a general inability to get out of their own way, Knicks fans haven’t had much to cheer about. Having arguably the worst owner in professional sports doesn’t help either.
Meet James Dolan, the owner of the New York Knicks
As any New York Knicks fan can tell you, there’s been one constant throughout the franchises’ slow decline: owner James Dolan.
Dolan’s father, Charles, made his money in the cable television industry. His main company, Cablevision, took over full ownership of Madison Square Garden in 1997; shortly after, they created The Madison Square Garden Company. James Dolan serves as the executive chairman of that company, making him the owner of the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.
While both franchises are quite valuable, they haven’t been that successful since Cablevision took over. The Rangers developed into championship contenders under John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault, but the Knicks haven’t been as lucky.
In terms of basketball operations, the club has been a mess, with then-commissioner David Stern publically saying, “they’re not a model of intelligent management.” In terms of public relations, things are arguably even worse, as Dolan seems to feud with fans, both celebrity and otherwise, on a regular basis.
Is it time that James Dolan sells the team?
From a pure basketball perspective, there’s no reason to really argue that James Dolan should sell the New York Knicks; if nothing else, it can’t make them worse. From a financial perspective, though, it’s hard to imagine that he will move on anytime soon.
Professional sports ownership is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, and no one is going to willingly tear up their membership card. Even if your teams are struggling, it’s almost impossible to lose money on the deal longterm. At the end of the day, that’s usually what talks.
As usual, the only way to hurt James Dolan is by avoiding his brands completely. While that might sound like a small price to pay to save the New York Knicks, it’s hard to ask every fan to collectively stop watching their favorite team.