A terrible season for the New York Knicks got just a little bit worse this week when it was revealed that owner James Dolan had responded to an email from an angry season-ticket holder in very inappropriate fashion. There is not much to say beyond what our Kelly Dwyer offered Monday, but the short story is that Dolan held his own sobriety over the head of someone he unknowingly accused of having a drinking problem, suggested that the man makes his family miserable, and generally overreacted to a message that looks tame compared to much of what public figures (unpopular or otherwise) see on a daily basis. It was not exactly a surprise coming from Dolan, a person who has done little to endear himself to Knicks fans over the years, but the level of animosity was startling.
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Despite a bizarre comment from NBA commissioner Adam Silver that Dolan was simply acting like "a consummate New Yorker" by reacting to insults with much harsher insults, the whole ordeal earned the billionaire bluesman a whole lot of negative press. But Dolan is a man of integrity and stands by his actions. From Marc Berman for the New York Post:
Though Dolan didn’t use the word “apologize’’ or “regret,’’ he admitted he shouldn’t have engaged. He said he usually does not respond to nasty correspondences such as the one from fan Irving Bierman, who begged him to sell the team. Dolan had yet to address his email flap, in which he called Bierman “a hateful mess.’’
“Here’s what happened: I was sent a bad, hateful email,’’ Dolan said. “I get emails all the time, like I’m sure you understand. I generally don’t respond to the bad ones. This one, it caught me at the wrong moment and I responded sort of like tit for tat.
“I knew I shouldn’t have done that, but I did it anyway because it made me angry — it was a personal, hateful attack. Basically it’s over and we got All-Star Weekend. I’d love it if we all just focused on that.’’
Dolan went on to say that he also receives very nice emails, although he typically does not respond to those, either. It appears that Bierman just happened to be lucky enough to find his name in Dolan's inbox on an especially bad day. Perhaps JD and the Straight Shot were unable to book themselves for an unearned gig opening for a genuine draw.
This story is but a drop in the ocean given that Dolan has spent more than a decade directly and indirectly antagonizing Knicks fans, but it's still notable as a view into the owner's particular brand of frustrating. Apart from what Kelly already discussed earlier this week, the worst part of Dolan's approach to this situation is his belief that his response is somehow equivalent to the message from Bierman. Even if we allow that the language is equally severe — which is a major concession, because it's not true — Dolan's position as an owner makes his action far worse. He not only holds a position that requires some willingness to take criticism from fans, but also wields considerably more power than a fan, no matter how wealthy that person may be. The idea that his response is "tit for tat" is absurd when one person is the owner of the franchise and the other is someone who pays him thousands of dollars per season for the honor of watching a disappointing product.
Sadly, Dolan's response indicates that there will be more incidents like this one in the future. If he didn't feel any shame this or any time, we shouldn't expect any remorse.
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