Tuesday, February 10, 2015

James Dolan’s Fan Etiquette 101

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James Dolan NY Knicks Owner

First off, I’m NOT a Knicks fan. I liked the Pat Ewing-led Knicks and before that the Bernard King-led Knicks and very much liked the Knicks of my youth – the Reed, DeBusschere, Clyde and Bradley-led Knicks of the late 1960s and early 1970s, BUT the most recent NY basketball team I really liked was the Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson-led Nets of the early 2000s.

Moreover, James Dolan, as owner of the Knicks, has every right to be a jerk, a poor businessman and an ineffective owner...and he’s been accused of being ALL of these things by many, MANY people, so it probably shouldn’t be at all surprising that Mr. Dolan responded to this message;

“Subject: I have been a knicks fan since 1952

“At one stage I thought that you did a wonderful thing when you acquired EVERYTHING from your dad. However, since then it has been ALL DOWN HILL. Your working with Isaiah Thomas & everything else regarding the Knicks. Bringing on Phil Jackson was a positive beginning, but lowballing Steve Kerr was a DISGRACE to the Knicks. The bottom line is that you merely continued to interfere with the franchise.

“As a Knicks fan for in excess of 60 years, I am utterly embarrassed by your dealings with the Knicks. Sell them so their fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction. Obviously, money IS NOT THE ONLY THING. You have done a lot of utterly STUPID business things with the franchise. Please NO MORE.”

[Aaron Bierman's dad]”

With white-hot anger and vitriol.

OK, it is a very pointed critique of James Dolan’s management of the Knicks franchise, BUT their current record the current state of that franchise doesn’t do much to defend Mr. Dolan against such a critique.

James Dolan replied to that critique of his ball club and management style with this avalanche of ad hominin and personal attacks;

“Mr. Bierman
“You are a sad person. Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21 year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks dont want you.


James Dolan”


The fact that a billionaire would respond to a powerless fan that way is...let’s say somewhat odd. You might even speculate that some of Dolan’s visceral anger is projection, but that’s another matter altogether.

WHY alienate this fan?

And with this message now getting out there, WHY risk alienating your entire fan base? True Knicks fans have been long-suffering for awhile now, so to, in effect, tell them to “go root for the Nets, if you don’t like the way we’re running things," is about as astute a business decision as a restaurateur, after a spate of bad meal services, telling customers, “Go elsewhere if you don’t like the way I cook!”

There's a very good chance that many of them will do exactly that.

Here’s the thing, James Dolan has every right to respond like a jerk, even to “sink to another’s level,” although Mr. Bierman didn’t personally attack Mr. Dolan, merely his management of the Knicks franchise.

And to be sure, not everyone takes criticism well and indeed, everyone makes mistakes. Hopefully, James Dolan regrets hitting “send” on that particular message, although once hit, it’s out there.

What I find a bit more troubling is NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s trite response to the escapade with, “Well, Jim Dolan’s a quintessential New Yorker.”


Being rude, angry and impolite is NOT being a “quintessential New Yorker.” In fact, it’s really NOT a “quintessential” ANYTHING. There are rude, obnoxious people everywhere and it isn’t a good, decent or even remotely positive trait. Such people DO NOT represent ANY particular place.

So why did Adam Silver say that?

I suppose to downplay Mr. Dolan getting treated better than any NBA player who insulted his fans would be...at least that’s all I can think of.

Look, suffice to say, that response was NOT one of James Dolan’s “finer moments.” In fact he managed to pull off a near magic trick, in making a BILLIONAIRE appear smaller than an average fan.

So, there’s at least SOME entertainment value in that!

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