James Dolan gives wide-ranging interview

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James Dolan touched on a variety of topics in an interview / profile piece by ESPN’s Ian O’Connor. I provide some highlights below, but I recommend that you read the entire piece since it is rare to get this much detail on the Knicks and Rangers’ owner.

The quote that is getting the most press from the article is James Dolan saying “I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks.” Dolan confirms he has received “feelers” for around $5 billion, but there have been no “bona fide” offers.

Of course, any hint of James Dolan selling the Knicks will come with celebration from Knicks fans, but if you read the context around the quote, you will see that selling the team is not exactly in the Dolan family plans.

“I can tell you that nobody in my family wants to sell the Knicks and Rangers. It’s not just my dad. It’s the whole family. It’s my [five] brothers and sisters. They like being owners.”

James Dolan via Ian O’Connor

Dolan explains how it’s his responsibility to his shareholders to consider an offer, “my family is not in [a position to want to sell], and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote. … As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either. As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell, because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won’t invest with you if you do that.

Read into the above as you like.

JAMES DOLAN HIGHLIGHTS

On Phil Jackson and the triangle. “I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got yessed a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”

On Jeff Van Gundy as potential coaching candidate and head coach search process. “I never heard that. He wanted the job? Look, I’ll do whatever’s necessary to help the team. If Scott and Steve said Jeff’s the right guy, fine, but it was really their call. I didn’t meet anybody else other than Fiz. They said, ‘Look, he’s our pick, I want you to meet him.’ So I did. I wasn’t involved in the selection process at all.”

On hiring Fizdale and having an all-black front office. “When we hired Fiz, Steve came up to me and he says, ‘How do you feel about having an all-black front office?’ I’m like, ‘We do?’ I didn’t realize we did. I don’t think that way. I think about how to get the work done, who’s the best person to do the job.” 

On women in the Garden workforce. “We have a lot of women who work in our company who are in very senior positions. That’s not because I’m trying to hire women. I think that’s because women are overlooked, and so therefore if you’re looking for the best person, the odds are stacked in favor of finding a woman for the job because the men are oversubscribed to and the women are undersubscribed to, and so therefore you get a better executive when you’re looking at women.”

On Donald Trump. “I’ve known him for a long time. I got married at Mar-a-Lago. I’m a member of Mar-a-Lago, and I support him as a friend. And you don’t have to agree with everything that he’s doing in order to support him. And he’s, by the way, our president, and I don’t understand people who wish our president to do badly. Why would you wish your president to do badly? It’s like wishing that your milkman will bring you sour milk.”

On Harvey Weinstein. “I wrote him a whole letter about [his predatory conduct] and he never responded to it, until the next time I heard from him like six weeks later, and it was a request for tickets. And I’m like, ‘I know you read my letter.’ But I gave up on him long before that.”

Adam Silver’s thoughts on Dolan paraphrased by Ian O’Connor. “The commissioner did say that Dolan’s stature has grown among his peers, that Jim serves on a number of impactful league committees and that his expertise in the media business is unrivaled. Silver also says that, more than any other owner, Dolan uses data and sound business principles instead of emotion in difficult negotiations, and that he forever calls the league office as an invested advocate of the Knicks.”