29 NBA teams made a public statement about the death of George Floyd. You know where this is heading, right? That’s right, yet again James Dolan managed to be on the wrong side of history. Desus called it before it happened.
Knicks players and employees have been waiting for the organization to join the entire league in supporting the fight for racial equality and justice. Someone who’s not a Knicks fan, and hasn’t suffered disappointment after disappointment, would expect this to be a no-brainer. Then James Dolan sent an internal memo explaining the decision to stay silent.
Taken out of context, you could say it’s a legitimate point to make. There are better people to speak up than a company dealing in “business of sports and entertainment.” But this is James Dolan, and he has a track record of speaking up as the CEO of a sports and entertainment company. Here are a few examples.
- After kicking out Charles Oakley, a Knicks legend, out of MSG, they implied Oakley is an alcoholic
- Responding to a fan’s critical email by saying the person must’ve “made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe.” and asking him to root for the Nets, as the Knicks don’t want him
- Accusing Anucha Brown Sanders of lying about Isiah Thomas‘s sexual harassment. A jury returned a verdict finding Thomas and Madison Square Garden liable for sexual harassment. The case was settled for $11.5 million after that.
NBA players and their teams are an essential part of their communities. Sports provide a valuable social experience for all of us, and that gives them a platform to shine a light on important issues. While James Dolan and the Knicks have the right to remain apolitical, saying that they are doing so because they are not the most qualified to “offer opinions on social matters” is hypocritical. If they are qualified to speculate on someone’s alcoholism or a former employee’s state of mind, then they don’t get to use this excuse.
Knicks players can still speak up on their personal social media channels and participate in protests, but the fact their organization is the only one that’s staying silent will leave (yet another) permanent mark on the Knicks organization.