Lightning Round: James Dolan SPEAKS!

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Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter published an interview with James Dolan, the owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, CEO of Cablevision, and frontman of JD & The Straight Shot. Interviews with Dolan are such a rare occurrence that we decided to gather our Rangers and Knicks fans, our New Yorkers, and our media conglomerate watchers in one place for a lightning-round reaction about what Dolan had to say.

Katie Baker: I had a hard time focusing on the interview for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I can’t stop thinking about the casual mention in the introduction that Dolan has six sons. SIX SONS!!! He has five skaters and a goalie, five starters and a sixth man. These Brothers Dolan range in age from 6 to 27, and we need to know everything about them. There’s definitely a hippie, a dirty charmer, and a Joffrey in the mix. I bet one is an Islanders fan just out of spite. I do wonder which child prompted this 2005 comparison from Dolan between parenting and running the Garden:

Going through a reorganization of this place, I compare it to giving your 5-year-old a fishing rod and reel. You turn away for ten minutes and then you turn back and there’s a rat’s nest that used to be the fishing reel. Now it’s your job to unravel it. Trying to reorganize this place was like that. We struggled with it for eighteen months. We had [consulting firm] McKinsey in here; they couldn’t figure it out.

The other thing is that I’m starting to suspect Dolan consents to interviews only if he’s assured they will be breathlessly pitched as “rare.” Such jewels they are, after all. “A Rare Q&A With James Dolan,” says The Hollywood Reporter. “You rarely hear him,” began a Q&A with the New York Post in 2013, which was later written about in Bleacher Report under the headline “Takeaways for NY Knicks From Rare James Dolan Interview.” And a year ago, Dolan’s own Newsday described a mini press blitz for the man — TV appearances, radio, you name it — but made sure to note “the interviews were a rarity for Dolan.” Were they, though?

Rangers fans know better. Dolan is generally hands-off with the team, but he has a recent habit of popping up unannounced during the good times. In 2012, fans and John Tortorella alike winced when their owner ambled up to the podium after a big midseason win and announced that the Rangers had a great shot at the Cup. And just the other night, he interrupted a Norwegian reporter to have a ridiculous conversation with Mats Zuccarello that likely left everyone involved reeling:

Dolan said that he expects to see Zuccarello this summer at a Blues festival in Notodden, Norway where Dolan’s band JD and the Straight Shot will play.

Zuccarello told Dolan that he would come to the festival but that he would need a reminder because he was “going to forget.”

Dolan then joked to Zuccarello, “if you remember to come I will remember to pay you.”

A truly rare glimpse of a beguiling man, indeed.

Jason Concepcion: ​Dear James Dolan,

We’ve disagreed on many things over the years, you and I. Or rather, I’ve disagreed with you as an insect disagrees with the weather, while you wouldn’t know me from a hat randomly selected from your Long Island mansion’s expansive fedora humidor.

​And, yet, I have a request to make of you. You see, one thing we do agree on, James, is the healing power of music.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.32.44 PM (1)The Hollywood Reporter

Say, what’s that behind your desk, leaning against your finely crafted executive entertainment center? Is that a custom Martin? OMJM series maybe? With an Engelmann spruce top and abalone inlay on the pickguard and headstock?

Uh-huh, that’s right, I just impressed you with my in-depth guitar knowledge. That means we’re friends now.

So, here it is, Jimmy: You. Me. A couple of bitching axes running through the best tube amps money can buy. (I like silverface Fender Twins.) Maybe a couple of tabs from Phil’s collection of vintage LSD. I’ve heard 1970 is a particularly good year. Then we turn down the lights, crank up the amps, and kick out the jams.

Ready to ride the wave whenever you are.

Sean McIndoe: James Dolan has always been confusing to me, because in my world he’s the owner of the New York Rangers, and the Rangers clinched the best record in the NHL this season. So I end up thinking, Maybe this guy gets a bad rap. And then I get exposed to literally anything else he’s ever been involved in and I go, Oh, OK, right.

Beyond that, I think my main takeaway from this interview is that Adam Silver’s idea of a cool gift to send NBA owners is a basketball. Gosh, thanks Adam, just what I needed. Certainly not something I already have literally hundreds of lying around. I think I’ll write a song about your generosity. It’s a good thing I carry my music-writing materials with me wherever I go.

Ryan O’Hanlon: I didn’t know about that supposed $1 bid for the New York Daily News before I read this interview, but that — along with Jimmy D’s admission that he sticks to a strict daily vocal-exercise routine — made me want to hurl my body into outer space in an effort to thank God for the beautifully silly world he or she molded out of primordial clay. Here is a guy whose franchise once traded three players and three draft picks for The Pump Fake Known As Andrea Bargnani — and now he’s slipping in a cheeky offer for a struggling tabloid? I do not know this clever version of James Dolan, and I doubt he really exists.

House-of-TurdsNew York Daily News

See, I’m sure whoever fielded the offer took it as an eff-you and never responded, but I don’t know if that was the right move. What if Dolan had actually just read a “How to Negotiate on eBay” guide and was simply attempting to start the process at the lowest price possible? I’m pretty sure if you challenged JD to a staring contest, you’d walk away with at least the rights to New York’s 2022 first-round pick, so what if the Daily News actually shot back with a counteroffer of its own? Could it have sold for more than the Washington Post? Hell, could it have sold for more than WhatsApp? If only Mort Zuckerman was more like Masai Ujiri.

Ben Detrick: I love James Dolan. But I also possess an unhealthy adoration for meddling owners, and he’s among the meddling-est.

Sports need villains, and meddling owners add an edge of acrimony to franchises that would otherwise engender indifference. How can one root against faceless cabals of hedge funders who view a downtrodden franchise as a depreciated asset, ripe for restoration and flipping? No, an owner should be Barnum-esque, a shameless ringmaster who promotes 10-cent beer nights, indulges in flame-wars with the local media, and possesses arrogance and lacks self-awareness in equal measures. Players change uniforms; a poisonous owner stays entrenched for decades, infecting generations of athletes with his toxins. It’s beautiful.

I want a blustering George Steinbrenner, buffoonish enough to warrant a Seinfeld impersonation. I demand a sneering Al Davis, who craved a Raiders team with the attitude and grooming habits of a San Bernardino biker gang. Yes, Donald Sterling was a repulsive racist who deserved his ousting, but he was the fascinating, skin-crawly incarnation of unchecked billionaire sleaze. There’s no shortage of such repugnance: Marge Schott, Art Modell, the Maloof brothers. Looking forward, I have high hopes for Vivek Ranadive, whose fitful experimentation with the Sacramento Kings’ infrastructure and loopy-ass cherry-picking strategies have turned the team into an odd-smelling petri dish.

I would do exactly the same thing. I would meddle my ass off. I would be an insufferable tyrant who surrounds himself with yes-men and scapegoats. I would be capricious and cruel and unaccountable. I would trade players because of the flimsiest perceived slights, fire coaches on drunken paranoiac whims. I would hire Allen Iverson as general manager. My owner’s luxury box would look like a Las Vegas hot tub during the Jerry Tarkanian era. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

So meddle away, Guitar Jimmy, meddle away. It just shows that you care.

Filed Under: Owners, Katie Baker, sean mcindoe, Ryan O'Hanlon, Jason Concepcion, Ben Detrick, James Dolan, New York Knicks, New York Rangers