On the same day that another New York professional sports team was punished by its league for a manager and pitcher picking a fight with a reporter over a benign salutation, the New York Knickerbockers incredibly managed to retain their crown as the pettiest and least professional team in the Big Apple. It took some doing, but even if they’re qualified for exactly nothing else, they’re qualified for this particular honor.
The situation arose out of owner James Dolan’s belief that the New York Daily News is openly rooting against his team. Back during the winter, Dolan and the Knicks excluded Daily News beat reporter Stefan Bondy from two press events, probably in retaliation for his paper publishing a cover story urging Dolan to sell the team. League rules mandate a certain level of access for credentialed news media, but the Knicks appeared to have skirted those rules, while violating their spirit, by excluding Bondy from what were positioned as invitation-only press interactions.
But Dolan’s resentment was bound eventually to overrun the thresholds of strict permissiveness. According to a report from Kevin Draper of the New York Times, the Knicks barred the Daily News from attending the introductory press conference Friday for top draft pick R.J. Barrett. On top of being just a total diaper baby move, this stonewalling finally violated the NBA’s rules on media access. Monday the NBA contacted the Knicks, informed them of the error of their ways, and hit the team with a $50,000 fine. The league’s intervention was acknowledged by Daily News Director of Sport Content Kyle Wagner, who also took the opportunity to dunk on the Knicks:
“The Knicks were allowed for too long to restrict access to credentialed reporters,” said Kyle Wagner, the editor in charge of sports coverage. “We’re pleased that the N.B.A. has finally addressed the issue, hopefully for the final time, and contented that the Knicks found someone to take their money this summer.”
The Knicks reportedly acknowledged their bad behavior but chalked it up to “a misinterpretation of the policy on when credentialed reporters must be let in” to press conferences. Before you translate that as implying that the Knicks will continue to exclude the Daily News whenever possible, ask yourself whether one of the world’s most prominent sports franchises could possibly be so relentlessly vindictive.
Disclosures: Daily News Director of Sports Content Kyle Wagner and Daily News editor Dennis Young were formerly on staff at Deadspin. While we’re here, New York Times reporter Kevin Draper was also formerly on staff at Deadspin. Also Knicks owner James Dolan once wrote a perfectly charming song for the Deadspin Awards. We are steeped in conflicts, here.