sportstapas
A little dishing on sports

Things That Tick Me Off: Volume II: The James Dolan Edition

There are four kinds of bad sports team owners.

1.  The Skinflints – These are the owners who refuse to spend enough money to field competitive teams.  Pirates fans, Royals fans, Clippers fans, you know what I mean.  Why there isn’t a rule that requires these deadbeats to sell their interests, I will never understand.  If you’re going to represent a city and wear that city’s name on your uniforms, and gouge that city for tax dollars to build your new stadiums with your fancy luxury boxes, you have a civic responsibility to compete for championships.  No one is saying you need to be fiscally reckless, but if you don’t have the money to compete, sell it and buy a Subway franchise.  You damn skinflints!

2.  The Narcissists – These are the owners who make everything about them.  I won’t mention any names, but chances are, if you would recognize the owner on the street, he – and it’s always a he now that Marge Schott is gone – fits into this category.  Ask yourself a question.  Do these owners ever win, regardless of how much they spend?  I thought not.  Hire smart people in your sport to run the team and get out of the damn way.  Why is that so hard?

3.  The Boneheads – The Wilpons are a good example of this.  How on earth can a team in the largest market; a team with its own sports network; a team with a brand new stadium, fail to have any success.  The New York Mets are the most fascinating franchise in sports – and no, that’s not a good thing.  Baseball is a rigged game.  Big market teams have the money.  The teams with money get the good players.  Good players lead to wins.  Wins, in turn, generally lead to championships.  The Mets have money.  So why is it that in the 24 years since the beloved 1986 Mets won the World Series, the Mets have only managed 4 postseason appearances, 1 World Series appearance and zero championships.  In addition to New York, which as we know also has the ultra successful Yankees, what are the largest markets?  Los Angeles?  Both the Dodgers and Angels have won titles since the Mets have and are perennially successful franchises.  Chicago?  The White Sox have won a World Series and have also had a number of successful years while the Cubs have only failed to win the championship so they can continue to be considered cute.  Boston?  The Red Sox are the second most successful franchise of the last decade.  What the hell are the Mets doing?!

And then there’s James Dolan.

I probably don’t need to chronicle the errors Dolan and his minions have made since terminating the only competent executive the Knicks had over a 30 year period, Dave Checketts.  Some of my favorites, though, include hiring Scott Layden, the man whose sophisticated player evaluations led to the Knicks giving $91 million in contracts to Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley.  Yes, to play basketball.  Dolan then replaced Layden, whose most recent position, as far as I know, is as manager of the 7-Eleven that just opened on 14th Street, with legendary player and destroyer of franchises – and in some cases leagues – Isiah Thomas.  Everything Isiah Thomas has touched in basketball has turned to defeat.  He ran the Raptors into the ground, bankrupted the CBA, turned a championship contending Indiana Pacer team into a .500 squad, and he was just getting warmed up.  If Isiah’s life-long goal was to author the most spectacular management failure in the history of professional sports, well, he made quite a compelling case for success in his five years with the Knicks.

Claiming a mandate based on his opinion that New York fans would not wait for a winner, Thomas trafficked in mediocrity like a Phil Collins cover band, stocking up on underachieving, overpaid players who were destined to fail along with the man who acquired them.  But Isiah wasn’t satisfied merely putting out an inferior product.  No, Isiah insisted on embarrassing the franchise in its corporate offices and taking one of the proudest names in sports for a joyride through the muck.  Thomas was on the losing end of an $11.6 million judgment obtained by a former Madison Square Garden executive who brought sexual harassment charges against the randy buffoon.  Then, to add injury to insult, Isiah overdosed on prescription pills in what some surmised was a failed (what else?) suicide attempt and then persisted in blaming his daughter for the incident despite all evidence to the contrary.

Through all this, Dolan, a man who is said to insist that employees patronize his band’s shows or feel his wrath – what, you think that’s wrong? – stood by Isiah.  He didn’t simply stand by him.  By all accounts he reveres the biggest failure in Knick history – next to himself.  And who could doubt that assessment now that Dolan has announced that  he is bringing Isiah back as a part-time consultant.  Dolan, of course, ever the master manipulator, made the announcement “jointly” with team president, Donnie Walsh, who was only brought into the fold after the commissioner’s office intervened  and insisted that Dolan replace Thomas with someone who wasn’t, well, a moron.  Who would possibly catch on that Dolan, by implicating Walsh in this travesty, was trying to attain cover for what he knew would not be well received by Knick fans?

Let me break it down for you right now, Mr. Dolan.  You are the worst excuse for an owner any sports fan could hope for.  I am embarrassed that you are in any way affiliated with the team I love and have rooted for nearly 40 years.  You have abdicated your vital role as custodian of the local treasure that has been our overmatched, overwhelmed but always beloved Knicks.  I will not rest until you are no longer permitted to take a dump on the hopes of Knick fans that our team might contend for a title in our lifetimes.  If I have to shout from every rooftop in Manhattan; if I have to start a thousand websites; if I have to e-mail David Stern every day for the next 50 years, I will take any and every lawful action necessary to save my team from you.  If you have to ruin a New York team, go buy the Yankees!

Better yet, just go bye.

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