There’s a whole lot to chew on (and possibly also retch up) in ESPN reporter Ian O’Connor’s substantial profile of James Dolan up today. Over the course of a two-hour interview, Dolan faced good, tough questions and responded at surprising length. He also displayed his trademark sensitivity and thoughtfulness on a whole range of issues.
When revisiting Madison Square Garden’s 2007 sexual harassment case, which ended in a $11.5 million settlement for Anucha Browne Sanders:
“People told me when you’re in these kind of trials that it’s stacked against you, as being the big employer versus, particularly, a minority woman.”
When making some clarifications about the song he sang for Deadspin in late 2017, in which he described Knicks ownership as a “living hell”:
“It’s not a living hell. I have to say, I enjoy the summers.”
When faced with several witnesses’ claim that he used to play guitar on the Knicks plane, even after losses:
(Dolan denies this claim and calls it “somebody’s fantasy.”)
Which raises the question: whose?
But for suffering fans, the red meat in a Dolan profile is any discernible hint that he might sell off his two sports franchises, the Rangers and Knicks. The quote in this piece won’t really satisfy anyone’s hunger. Really, he’s just talking about the separate sets of duties and incentives he has when acting as a CEO, versus as a majority owner:
“I love the Knicks and Rangers, right, but you still have a responsibility to your shareholders. They’re not there because they’re fans. You don’t invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a stock because you’re a fan. You do it because you think that the business is going to increase in value, that the stock price is going to go up. You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that’s being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks. Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote. ... As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either. As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell, because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won’t invest with you if you do that.”
Any talk of a $5 billion offer for the Knicks sounds tenuous at best: “No one has come through with a bona fide offer,” Dolan told O’Connor. But, just like the last time a report created some buzz about a potential Dolan sale, the MSG stock did a little jig, which aligns neatly with the publication of the ESPN piece.
Once again, the free market has told James Dolan how highly it thinks of him.