James Dolan is not speaking to the media these days and he won’t give The Daily News the time of day. Our own Ian Begley had the audacity to ask Dolan a question following Friday’s win over Toronto and Ian was accused of being “disrespectful” and was lectured by one of Dolan’s P.R. people and by Garden security. I think the next time Ian even says hello to Dolan the Garden should take him to Times Square for a public stoning. That’ll teach him.
Dolan isn’t talking to the press because there is really nothing he can say. The days of Isiah Thomas “showing evident progress” and that Isiah “doesn’t really know how good a coach he is” are long over. Dolan’s not going there.
jamesdolanfan.jpgBut Dolan is pressing the flesh with the people who matter most: his customers. A gentleman named Mark Haverly (standing to Dolan’s right) ran into the Knicks’ top decision maker on the street during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans and had an interesting conversation with Dolan.
Here is Mark’s report:
“I explained I’m a long suffering Knicks fan and made reference to the suffering beginning around when he took over without saying it overtly. I said I appreciated the loyalty he clearly has, but at some point the results have to overrule loyalty, i.e. please fire Isiah.”
(Spoken like a true and honest Knicks fan.)
“He told me to be patient and said ‘look at the Celtics, where were they a year ago? Look at the Giants, where were they a year ago?’
“I politely explained, ‘Well, the difference with the Giants is they made the playoffs the last few years, you can’t say that. And the Celtics had cap space to acquire Garnett, you didn’t.’”
(Two great points by Mark here. But I’m going to give Dolan the benefit of the doubt on this one because he’s not about to tell a stranger that Isiah’s done after game No. 82. Chances are Dolan was simply trying to give a Knicks fan some hope while wishing that Mark, much like Ian, would just go away.
Then again, that Dolan would use the Celtics and Giants to support an argument that the Knicks will perform miracles next season tells you that Isiah and Dolan are still on speaking terms. Why? Because that utter nonsense can only originate from one person and that would be Isiah, who talks, and talks, and talks, and nothing he says ever makes sense or comes to fruition. Dolan deserves better.
Also, the Celtics didn’t have cap space to acquire Kevin Garnett; they used young assets, which is something the Knicks don’t have, either. But you get the picture.)
Now, back to Mark because it gets better. Haverly asked Dolan, who was accompanied by several Garden officials, “‘would you ever consider bringing back Jeff Van Gundy, a coach that could get these guys to play some defense?’” They all laughed at me. ‘He quit, there’s no coming back from that!’ Dolan said.”
(Man, Dolan still has a thing for Van Gundy, the one coach he had that actually won something. I guess if Jeff smiled, lied and collected fat paychecks as much as Isiah has under Dolan he’d have a banner hanging from the rafters.)
“I responded, ‘Well, yeah…but why did he quit? And why did Marv Albert quit?’ Dolan said in a wink wink kind of way, ‘Marv didn’t quit’ - implying he was fired.”
(Here is one indisputable fact: Marv doesn’t work at the Garden and Patrick Ewing doesn’t work at the Garden because the current regime cares little about Knicks history. Instead, they let a Detroit Piston player tell them how things work in New York.)
“I then made reference to all the good people that have left under his regime, the continued disgraceful record of both teams - save for the Rangers for one year maybe - and he again brought up the Celtics.
“So, for all us Knick fans out there I’m here to tell you there’s nothing to worry about…James Dolan himself told me next year we’ll be this year’s version of the Celtics. So about 40-10 come the break. No worries everybody, he’s got it all under control. He couldn’t quite (tell me) why this hasn’t happened in any of the previous years under his control. But since the Giants did what they did and the Celtics are doing what they are doing apparently next year it’s the Knicks turn.”
(Mark, that type of sarcasm will put you on the Garden’s “Watch List.” In fact, with this line of questioning Mark was safer on the streets of New Orleans than he would have been at Madison Square Garden. Mark even held his ground when a Garden official told him that the Knicks remain one of the top draws in the NBA.)
Here was Mark’s retort:
“That’s great, because as a sports fan it’s my goal every year to see my team at or near the top of the league in attendance. Eastern Conference standings be damned, we lead the league with 17,500 fools a game!”