Knicks release 35-word statement for 'positive change' after weeks of silence on George Floyd

The New York Knicks released their first statement since George Floyd’s homicide and the ensuing protest marches to fight racial injustice.

It was 35 words put on social media 15 minutes before Floyd’s memorial service in Houston was scheduled to start and more than two weeks after he was killed.

The Knicks wrote:

“Every one of us has a role to play in creating a more just and equal society, where there is no racism, bigotry, violence or hate. We stand with all who act for positive change.”

The statement is notably short and not to the point, because it tip-toes around the larger issue of systemic racism and any plans to help stop it. Fans were quick to note that, as with the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell’s initial statement, it is missing three key words: “black lives matter.”

The Knicks were one of only two NBA teams to not put out a statement. They posted a black square on Instagram for #BlackoutTuesday last week but Madison Square Garden, which also oversees the New York Rangers, has been mum on racial injustice.

Lack of statement created frustration from players

Madison Square Garden Chairman & CEO James Dolan attends the ceremony marking Billy Joel's 100th performance at New York's Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Madison Square Garden Chairman & CEO James Dolan finally released a statement after George Floyd's homicide. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

That the Knicks had not put out a statement was reportedly a growing frustration for players in the organization as far back as June 1. James Dolan, one of the least liked owners in sports, stood by the decision to not release a statement in an email to Madison Square Garden employees.

The email, via ESPN’s Pablo Torre:

“We know that some of you have asked about whether our company is going to make a public statement about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer,” Dolan wrote in the email, via ESPN. “I want you to know, I realize the importance of this issue. Therefore, I want you to understand our internal position.

“This is a turbulent time in our country. The coronavirus and civil unrest have taken their toll on our way of life. We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of a respectful and peaceful workplace. We always will.

“As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters. What’s important is how we operate. Our companies are committed to upholding our values, which include creating a respectful workplace for all, and that will never change. What we say to each other matters. How we treat each other matters. And that’s what will get us through this difficult time.”

The following day Dolan sent another email to employees to clarify his and the company’s position.

“So let me be clear: we vehemently condemn and reject racism against anyone, period."

Yet the team still did not put out a statement. Players have been outspoken on social media and attended protests, while superfan Spike Lee reportedly said he wasn’t surprised at the silence.

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