James L. Dolan went on television on Thursday morning and said that, contrary to rumors that began to circulate in late June, he is not interested in selling either the New York Knicks or the New York Rangers. That is, however, not all that he did!
During Thursday’s appearance on New York FOX affiliate WNYW-TV’s “Good Day New York” morning show — which was first and foremost a gig for his blues-rock outfit, JD & The Straight Shot — the 63-year-old Dolan led the band through a new song titled “I Should’ve Known.”
A “source close to Dolan” told Billboard last week that the new song is his “way of dealing with guilt” over his relationship to Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood producer accused in multiple media reports last fall of sexually harassing, assaulting or raping scores of women over the course of his career in the film industry.
Seven months after the initial reports by the New York Times and New Yorker, Weinstein was arrested this past May and charged with first- and third-degree rape and committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree in incidents involving two separate women. Another victim came forward in July, resulting in another indictment that carries with it a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Dolan served on the board of directors of The Weinstein Company from mid-2015 through June 2016. In a statement announcing he’d be stepping away from the company, he said that Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein “remain close personal friends.” Dolan and fellow ex-Weinstein Company board member/Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry were listed last December as defendants in a federal lawsuit brought by six women who allege that Weinstein assaulted them and that the board members “knew of Weinstein’s pattern and practice of predatory sexual conduct toward women.” (In the “Good Day, New York” interview, Dolan said the song wasn’t only about Weinstein, saying the song “is really about friends, versus a friend, in particular,” citing how the #MeToo movement has laid bare just how widespread the problem of sexual abuse is, and just how many people were perpetrating it unbeknownst to friends like Dolan.)
In the song, Dolan communicates that he did not know that his friends were allegedly serial sexual assaulters, but that he now thinks he should have, and that he’s got some regrets about that. Here’s the chorus of “I Should’ve Known”:
I should’ve known
I should’ve known
I should’ve thrown myself across his tracks
Stopped him from these vile attacks
I should have known
We believed and didn’t see
Through the lies he told us all
They led him to his endless fall
I should’ve known
I should’ve known
Asked on “Good Day, New York” whether he felt guilty about having not done more to prevent Weinstein’s myriad alleged abuses, Dolan replied, “Um, you know, I wonder — and I’ve actually talked to a lot of my other friends who obviously know all these folks, right? — I wonder what could I have done? What did I miss?”
Which brings us to the song’s second verse, in which Dolan turns his gaze to the many, many, many other instances of sexual assault perpetrated by powerful people revealed in the wake of the Weinstein reports:
And what of the others?
In some way, all my brothers
Sitting on the very top
Could not hear the call to stop
This all might hit your ear a little funny if you’ve been following Dolan and his stewardship of the Knicks for a while. Like, say, since 2007.
A jury ruled in October of that year that Isiah Thomas — then the Knicks’ head coach and president of basketball operations — had sexually harassed former Knicks vice president of marketing and business operations Anucha Browne Sanders. The jury also found that the Madison Square Garden Corporation, led by Dolan, had improperly fired Sanders for complaining about Thomas’ unwanted advances. MSG was forced to pay $11.6 million in punitive damages in the case.
Despite that verdict, Thomas maintained his innocence after the case’s resolution, and was never found personally liable for any damages. Despite that verdict, Dolan stood by Thomas, allowing him to continue in his dual roles until the following April, when veteran executive Donnie Walsh was brought in to take over the front office and Thomas was later “reassigned” off the bench after coaching the Knicks to a .341 winning percentage during his tenure.
Dolan would continue to keep Thomas around the organization in the years that followed, and even went so far as to name Thomas the president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty in May of 2015. The decision instantly raised eyebrows and questions about how someone who’d been found liable of sexually harassing a female employee could be put in charge of a women’s basketball team. Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Company responded with a defiant statement:
We did not believe the allegations then and we don’t believe them now. We feel strongly that the jury improperly and unfairly held Isiah Thomas responsible for sordid allegations that were completely unrelated to him, and for which MSG bore responsibility. In fact, when given the opportunity, the jury did not find Isiah liable for punitive damages, confirming he did not act maliciously or in bad faith. We believe Isiah belongs in basketball, and are grateful that he has committed his considerable talent to help the Liberty succeed.
Three years later, Thomas remains the team’s president.
“That’s almost really what the song is: what did we miss?” Dolan explained on “Good Day, New York” on Thursday. “Because if you were friends with any of those people, a lot of them were, you know, were people that we never would have thought that about.”
If Dolan’s truly thinking about the things he missed over the years, the life-changing harm suffered by people endangered by those oversights, and what he might have done differently had he known more, well, that’s a good thing. One wonders, though, how far down that road he plans to go.
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