Updated: Jul 18
By: Tarrian Rodgers
In 1989, lifelong New York Knicks fan and film producer Spike Lee made the classic film “Do the Right Thing.” This film showcased the proud culture of New York. From an outside perspective we saw what New York was: a melting pot cooking up a rich culture made up of many different people. It was one of the most important films of that time and era. In the contemporary sporting world, Lee’s beloved Knicks saw renewed success from 1988 to 2001.
As Lee’s film making career took off so did the Knicks. The Knicks made the playoffs fourteen consecutive seasons, including their miracle 8th seed and NBA Finals run in 1999. The irony of 1999 for the Knicks is that is when James Dolan was given an increased role in managing Cablevision's sports properties, giving him primary control over these assets. The teams under his control included most notably the NBA Knicks, the NHL Rangers, the WNBA New York Liberty, and the American Hockey League's Hartford Wolf Pack. As Chairman of Madison Square Garden, he supervises day-to-day operations of its professional sports teams and regional sports networks, which include MSG Network and MSG Plus. He also serves as a governor of the Knicks and Rangers to their respective leagues. If you’re a fan of either of these teams you realize how scary it is for one man to have all that power.
James Dolan as an owner is horrible on every level. He makes bad decisions on the court and has been completely detrimental not only to his team but himself off the court. He has done every wrong thing you can think of.
On the court.
If we talk about his resume on the court, he’s turned a once proud franchise into a laughing stalk, Dolan has posted a losing record from 2001-2010 which includes. One playoff series win over the last 20 years Had the worst record in the NBA (17-65) this past 2018-2019 season Set a single-season franchise record for most consecutive losses at 18 straight games this past 2018-2019 season
Unable to sign any free agents, the biggest being an injured Amar’e Stoudemire despite being one of the largest markets in the entire world.
The Amare Stoudemire signing is just the tip of the iceberg for Dolan. You know you are a terrible decision maker when the NBA names a rule after you. Dolan once signed Allan Houston to a six-year, $100 million contract in 2001 despite the maximum offer from other teams being $75 million. Houston was the NBA’s second-highest paid player in the 2005-2006 season despite him not playing a single game. This contract was so bad the NBA created a rule known as the “Allan Houston rule” that allows teams to release a single unproductive player and remove their contract from their luxury tax calculation.
If Dolan’s signings aren’t bad enough his trades were worse. Dolan traded for Stephon Marbury absorbing his 5-year contract extension worth $76 million in 2005. In his third contract year, Marbury was removed from the starting lineup after he averaged career lows in both points and rebounds. This angered Marbury, causing him to receive a one-game suspension after refusing to play for an injury-riddled Knicks team later in the season. The Knicks eventually bought out the $21 million remaining on his contract. Trading for Eddy Curry. Giving up every foreseeable asset for Carmelo Anthony
Off the Court
The worst thing about James Dolan is that his errors on the court follow him off the court which ultimately affects his team’s success. Dolan hired GM Isiah Thomas, Thomas lost a lawsuit to Anucha Browne Sanders, who claimed that not only did Thomas sexually harass her, but that Dolan fired her in retaliation. After a home defeat at the hands the Sacramento Kings late in the 2018-2019 season, a fan yelled “sell the team” to Dolan as he walked by. Dolan preceded to stop, heckle the fan, administer him with a lifetime ban from Madison Square Garden, and falsely state in an interview that the fan had “set up an ambush” and appeared as if he “stalked him.” Dolan sent security guards that ejected and later arrested Knicks legend and 10-year Knicks player Charles Oakley during a home game in 2017 after he expressed displeasure prior to the game with Dolan as an owner. Dolan went on to release a statement saying that “Charles Oakley was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon”, which was seen as a false implication of Oakley having a drug or alcohol problem. Dolan is currently being sued by MSG Shareholders for his excessive salary and for spending too much time with his Jazz band, JD & The Straight Shot. Despite claiming to be the full-time CEO of the Knicks, the report claims that Dolan engaged in over 50 performances in 2017 and neglected his duties as Knicks CEO. After scheduling the Eagles to play in Cablevision-owned Madison Square Garden, Dolan once bumped another band to allow his jazz band to open for them. In lieu of the Trayvon Martin situation his band made a song called “Under the Hood.” This song mentions nothing good comes from strange looking people wearing hoods in the wrong neighborhood.
Overall, Dolan has a well-deserved reputation as one of the league’s worst owners. Free agents are avoiding coming to New York because of him. He is consistently ranked in every list of “Worst Owners in Sports” and has publicly feuded with fans, former players, the media, and just about anyone who has criticized his poor tenure as Knicks owner. For his own personal denial and checkered history, he has my unanimous vote as the worst owner in sports.