James Dolan continues to run his business more like a despot than a businessperson

James Dolan

James Dolan
Photo: Getty Images

America may have largely voted against authoritarianism last week, but the New York Knicks continue to lean into it.

In James Dolan’s latest attempt to vanquish any opposition to the Knicks, except for the ones the team is scheduled to play against, he is attempting to ban a law firm from every single property owned by Madison Square Garden.

Larry Hutcher, and all other lawyers with the firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP are representing a group of ticket resellers that are currently banned from Madison Square Garden’s properties. The resellers are suing on the basis of New York’s Arts and Cultural Affairs law. Hutcher has been a season-ticket holder for the Knicks and New York Rangers for decades, but was informed earlier this year that they would not be renewed. MSG has a policy that bars lawyers from its properties if they’re involved in a case against the company.

This resulted in a second suit filed by Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, and they received a partial victory on Monday. A judge ruled that lawyers from the firm must be permitted entry for music and theater shows at the Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and Beacon Theater if they present a valid ticket. There has been no ruling yet on Knicks and Rangers games.

Typical behavior from Dolan and his company. This is the same person who fired Marv Albert from MSG Network in 2004 for criticizing the Knicks, called former 21st Century Fox Executive Rupert Murdoch and got the company to remove ads from subway cars that made fun of the team, and has tried with every fiber of his being to keep the media away.

When the Knicks traded for Jalen Brunson and signed R.J. Barrett to a contract extension, they didn’t hold press conferences for either event. The Bruson one is especially fishy, because Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau hired his father, Rick, to be an assistant coach after he resigned from Thibodeau’s Minnesota Timberwolves staff following allegations of sexual misconduct that he has denied. The Knicks 2022 Media Day was titled “Content Day.”

Since 2001, the Knicks have required team personnel to be present when players are interviewed by the press. In a 2007 Sports Illustrated story, S.L. Price wrote that the Knicks have a “Big Brother reputation unsurpassed by any team in sports.” Also included in the piece is an anecdote about Bill Parcells calling a former Knicks coach and asking in a laughing but serious way, “Is this a clean line?”

Turning the Knicks into a silo is all that Dolan has been able to accomplish since he became Chairman of Madison Square Garden. The city’s most beloved team has turned into the joke that the Los Angeles Clippers have been for most of their existence. The franchise of Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Bernard King, and Patrick Ewing has won four playoff rounds since the turn of the millennium, two of those in 2000.

Dolan has thrown money at Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, and a broken Amare Stoudemire, and none of it has helped. The Knicks have not looked like a championship contender since Jeff Van Gundy was yelling at officials as their head coach, instead of at NBA fans across the world when he feels that a bad call was made.

Instead of making better basketball decisions, Dolan has taken the approach of declaring anyone who criticizes, or apparently professionals who represent someone with a legitimate claim against his company, as a mortal enemy.

I guess writing this column now puts me on that list as well. Hey, if being the world’s most unsuccessful dictator makes him feel better about him cratering the reputation of a once proud franchise, so be it.

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