New York Knicks owner James Dolan is known for his questionable personnel decisions, but he has officially taken his eccentric disposition to a whole new level of bonkers.
Update: Tuesday, January 15 at 1:45 p.m. ET
In the wake of an incident between Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett that resulted in Anthony's suspension, the Knicks recorded all in-game conversations between the forward and players around him Friday against the Bulls, a league source has confirmed.
Owner James Dolan ordered Madison Square Garden technicians to place two microphones on opposite ends of the court, a move league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard was put in place in order to protect Anthony.
The Knicks were trying to ascertain whether other players were going overboard in their trash talking against Anthony, sources told Broussard.
It is not clear whether the recordings will continue, but sources tell Broussard that any move to paint them as Dolan "spying" on Anthony is "flat-out wrong."
While the latest development doesn't change the abnormality of such measures, it does put any ill-fated conspiracy theories to rest.
Dolan is a known advocate (understatement) of Anthony's, so this makes sense. He's put the fate of his franchise in 'Melo's hands, and the fact he wants to protect his star's reputation and well-being is anything but surprising.
Still, though such measures were taken to protect Carmelo, they could also implicate him should he be the one to step out of line or instigate any altercations.
We don't know if these recordings will continue, so my advice to Anthony is this: Be cognizant of what you're saying. At all times.
And the same goes for Kevin Garnett the next time he plays the Knicks.
---End of update---
For reasons only he can explain — but probably wouldn’t, at least not without an act of Congress — Jim Dolan made a few MSG Network employees perform a surreptitious duty during the Knicks’ game against Chicago on Friday night.
Two audio technicians were stationed at two corners of the court — one a few feet just behind the Knicks bench, the other diagonally opposite — and they were holding those umbrella-shaped contraptions known as parabola microphones, which fed the audio into a DAT recorder on the truck on the loading dock.
These guys had one directive from Dolan: Record every syllable Carmelo Anthony utters and absorbs while he’s on the court and on the bench, the Madison Square Garden CEO ordered them, and send the tape directly to me.
Sounds a little Watergate-meets-Bill-Belichick's-role-in-Spygate to me—except Dolan was using his resources to spy on one of his own players.
Why was Dolan attempting to "eavesdrop" on his best player? Why was he attempting to spy on his own team? Why was he partaking in the NBA's version of espionage at all?
As D'Alessandro notes, we may very well never know:
The purpose of this command was unclear, but Dolan must have had a good reason to eavesdrop on Melo’s interactions.
Was it to luxuriate in the poetic musings of his most valuable player, even though he is far from his most voluble player? Was it a teaching tool, so his coaches could school Melo on the potential hazards of courtside misconduct?
Or perhaps it was done to furnish proof to the NBA that his meal ticket is now a verbal target, particularly with notorious motormouths such as Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson in town that night for a full-court yakfest?
Unfortunately, with Dolan, we won't ever know. Even if he came out and told us why (he won't), taking what he says at face value is like placing any faith in the Washington Wizards franchise—it's futile.
Dolan could have been attempting to give Anthony a lesson in on-court demeanor, or he could have been hoping to obtain in-game dealings that exonerated his prized possession from any wrongdoing ever.
We just don't know.
What we do know is that this is both absurd and not at all surprising.
Dolan has been known to dance to the beat of his own drum and operate under a self-imposed set of suspect moral guidelines. If he didn't, Isiah Thomas would have never been a part of the Knicks organization, and Donnie Walsh still would.
Admittedly, this particular venture of Dolan's is more cryptic than usual. It reeks of his attempt to remain involved in an organization that is far better off without him (financial means aside).
What exactly could he be trying to accomplish here?
His commitment to Anthony cost the Knicks the farm almost two years ago, cost Mike D'Antoni his job and (if we buy into such conjecture) aided in his decision to watch Jeremy Lin waltz off to Houston. Do we honestly believe his intent was to teach Melo a "lesson" in behavior?
I'd be more inclined to believe he was attempting to gain some insight into what Anthony faces on a nightly basis, in the hopes of protecting his cornerstone. Is he really being chastised more than most? Are the referees allowing him to incur a beatdown void of whistles for sport?
Compiling such intel would allow Dolan to ship some tangible evidence off to the league outlining the perpetual injustice that is allegedly being bestowed upon Anthony.
But what does he do from there? What does the league do from there?
In truth, David Stern, the king of micromanaging-infused tyranny, would probably scoff at such an act. He'd likely send the audio clips right back to Dolan with an intricately crafted smiley face, perhaps accompanied by a number for a therapist.
I mean seriously, could this be any more ridiculous? Who spies on their own team? That's a level of inanity Dolan himself has even yet to breach. Until now, of course.
Internally, I'm trying to rationalize what Dolan did in some way. But it's impossible.
Dolan could have been attempting to "protect" Anthony, or he could have simply been trying to satiate his own ego in some way.
Maybe he was even hoping Melo would drop a line or two about his latest diet.
Whatever the reason, there's no denying that Melo has once again become a victim. First, to Kevin Garnett's seething trash talk, and now to Dolan's maniacal-bordering-on-psychopathic rule.
And you thought your boss had issues.