One of the most-loathed owners in professional sports tested positive for COVID-19. News broke late on Saturday evening that James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, has been diagnosed with coronavirus.
Dolan, 64, is self-isolating in an undisclosed location. According to a press release, “James Dolan has little to no coronavirus symptoms.”
Dolan initially took heat for being the sole NBA owner who wanted to keep playing games when Rudy Gobert initially tested positive for coronavirus. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver met with owners before deciding to postpone the NBA season indefinitely. The NBA had approximately 20 or so games remaining in the regular season when play halted on March 10.
Dolan has since made strides to ensure that all MSG employees will be paid through May.
New York state, particularly New York City, is a hot zone for the coronavirus pandemic, with the largest number of reported cases in the United States. Fellow New Yorkers would never wish for their neighbors to fall ill with the virus, however, a large subsection of irate Knicks fans showed no sympathy for Dolan following the announcement he contracted the virus. The Knicks’ Twitterverse was flooded with memes and GIFs when word broke last night.
Dolan joined a list of infected NBA players, staff, and announcers that includes Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, and ESPN’s Doris Burke. Although Durant and three other members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for coronavirus, Dolan is the only member of the Knicks to also test positive.
The Bronx Cheer
Dolan has become one of the most hated owners in professional sports. As bad as the New York Mets and New York Jets (yes, those mighty LOL Jets) have been over the last decade, the Knicks somehow find a way to take top prize for complete dysfunction in Gotham’s sporting realm.
Dolan instilled a paranoid and toxic culture upon his arrival in the late 1990s. Working-class fans never respected the billionaire’s son after he shipped away Patrick Ewing without giving the “Captain” a proper send-off as one of the greatest basketball players to ever suit up at MSG.
The Knicks are the laughingstock of the NBA. The franchise continuously fails to advance to the postseason, despite multiple regime changes, the failure to execute proven winning philosophies, and bunk free-agent signings.
In the last few years, Dolan quickly stomped out any dissent in the ranks. That included a spat with ex-Knicks star, Charles Oakley, who had been vocal about the Knicks’ poor management over the past few seasons.
The Knicks incurred the biggest blow last offseason when their draft and free-agency plans went belly up. During a concerted effort to tank to secure top-pick Zion Williamson, the Knicks incurred a bad beat when they failed to win the Zion Sweepstakes and the #1 overall pick. To complicate matters, two of the top free agents on the market snubbed the Knicks. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets instead.
During another dismal season, attendance hit record lows at MSG. A thin-skinned Dolan went after long-time season ticketholder, director Spike Lee, which generated a tsunami of bad publicity. He also forced MSG security to eject fans who started “Sell the team!” chants during Knicks’ blowouts.
Selling the LA Forum
Dolan also owns Madison Square Garden, which is home to the Knicks and Rangers, plus countless other events and concerts. The MSG Company also owned the LA Forum, the former home of the LA Lakers and LA Kings. Irving Azoff and Dolan purchased the old Forum and renovated it to become a state-of-the-art music and entertainment venue.
Last week, Dolan and MSG Company sold the LA Forum to Steve Ballmer, owner of the LA Clippers. Ballmer paid $400 million in cash for the Forum, located in Inglewood.
Balmer insists the Forum will remain as a music venue. He intends to build a new stadium for the LA Clippers in an adjacent parking lot. The area will become an entertainment hub. SoFi Stadium, the new home for the LA Rams and LA Chargers, is also located in an adjacent lot where the old Hollywood Park Racetrack once stood.
It has been a wild and weird couple of days for James Dolan, who banked $400 million for the sale of the LA Forum and tested positive for the coronavirus in the same week.