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James Dolan has been the New York Knicks owner since 1997, and—besides Donald Sterling—might be the NBA's worst.
Dolan's the Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden Inc.—consisting of MSG Sports, MSG Media and MSG Entertainment—and is President and CEO of Cablevision. His uncle—Larry Dolan—owns the Cleveland Indians.
In 1999, the Knicks made the NBA FInals but took a steep downhill turn afterwards. Dolan helped fuel the decline—which included eight straight losing seasons from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010—with a number of poor decisions:
-Signing Allan Houston to a $100 million contract in 2001.
-Hiring Isiah Thomas as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations in 2003.
-Signing Larry Brown in 2005 to a 5-year, $50 million contract and then firing him after one season.
-Allowing Thomas to make terrible player acquisitions—Jerome James, Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry.
-Allowing Thomas to coach the Knicks in 2006.
-Giving Thomas numerous votes of confidence.
-Giving Thomas a multi-year contract extension in 2007.
-Firing Anucha Browne Sanders after she was harassed by Thomas.
The smartest sports-related decision Dolan's ever made came in 2008, when he hired Donnie Walsh as President of Basketball Operations. Walsh saved the franchise—to put it lightly. Last season was the first since 1999 in which the Knicks paid no luxury tax—a major shift from paying $24 million-$30 million per year in luxury tax fees while Isiah called the shots.
As a Knicks fan, I’m hopeful that Walsh’s retirement as the team’s president of basketball operations doesn’t mean the return of Thomas. There are reports that the hall of fame point guard won’t get his old job back, so maybe the days of ridiculous contracts and behavior from New York’s front office will remain in the past.
As a rational person—or at least as someone who thinks he’s rational—I’m deeply concerned about Dolan’s close friendship with Zeke. New York’s grown into a playoff team, not far from championship contention, but Thomas—a man who once proclaimed Eddy Curry would become a perennial all-star—could ruin all of that.
All the speculation has kept Dolan in the media spotlight since he hired Isiah as a special advisor last August. When New York traded for Carmelo Anthony, rumors surfaced that Walsh wanted to wait until after the season culminated to get Melo as a free agent, but Thomas convinced Dolan to disregard Walsh and make the move.
Even before the trade went down, speculation that Thomas was running the team behind the scenes was running rampant.
James Dolan holds the New York Knicks fate in his hands. Even during the horrible seasons, attendance was always near the best in the league. In my opinion, Dolan owes the fans for that type of support and shouldn’t derail the progress of the NBA’s most financially valuable team.