If you have $5 billion lying around, you might be able to purchase the New York Knicks from billionaire James Dolan.
In an interview with Ian O’Connor for ESPN, Dolan stated that he does not want to sell the Knicks, but he is not opposed to selling the team and casually mentioned a feeler offer worth $5 billion.
Dolan is less focused on sports these days and has become obsessed with a legacy in music and entertainment. He is building state-of-the-art entertainment venues around the world called MSG Sphere, with construction already underway in London and Las Vegas.
Who Is James L. Dolan?
James, 63, is the son of cable mogul Charles Dolan, who started Cablevision in the 1960s. Charles Dolan also created the cable channel HBO. In 1995, James Dolan became the CEO of Cablevision in a move that screamed nepotism.
According to ESPN’s O’Connor, “(James) has been painted as a grown-up rich kid with a volcanic temper and a born-on-third-base makeup, and as a hapless owner whose clashes with the media suggest he’s more concerned with controlling negative commentary than he is with fixing the problems that encourage it.”
James Dolan is the CEO of the Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the Knicks (NBA), Rangers (NHL), and Liberty (WNBA).
Cablevision purchased the Knicks and Rangers from Paramount (via Viacom) in 1994. In 1999, Dolan took a more of an interest in the sports franchises and took over supervising day-to-day operations of the Knicks and Rangers.
In 2015, Altice purchased Cablevision for $17.7 billion, which did not include the sale of the Knicks and Rangers. The Madison Square Garden Company was created in 2010, and retains ownership of the sports franchises and the MSG Network.
Rough Days with the Knicks
Dolan has been running the New York Knicks for almost twenty years with less-than-desirable results. Ever since head coach Jeff Van Gundy left the Knicks in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, the Knicks only advanced to the playoffs three times and held a 7-18 postseason record. The Knicks won the Atlantic Division only once in the last 17 seasons.
The Knicks recently hired David Fizdale, who is trying to evade the Curse of the Knicks. Since 2001, twelve coaches tried to restore the Knicks to their glory days. All of them failed due to Dolan’s meddling. That span also includes a short stint with Phil Jackson as GM.
After two decades of malaise as one of the worst franchises in all of sports, fans rejoiced upon reading the ESPN article that Dolan is not opposed to selling the Knicks if the price is right. Dolan cited that he owed it to the investors and shareholders to do what’s best for the company, which would include entertaining a sale.
In recent years, Dolan pivoted away from trying to solidify a legacy with an NBA championship. He is now creating a music legacy with the creation of MSG Sphere Las Vegas and MSG Sphere London. Dolan wants to build his spheres all over the world, including New York City. The Sphere is billed as the live concert venue of the future.
Dolan’s side passion is music and his band J.D. and the Straight Shot. His son is a guitarist in a jamband called Tauk. His best friend is music industry whiz Irving Azoff, who is most known for managing The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac.
With Dolan’s focus on music and the spheres, he stepped away from the daily operations of the sports franchises under his domain.
Former Knicks season ticketholder and longtime fan Pete Carini said, “Dolan seemed more interested in bringing Phish to play 13 concerts in 17 nights at MSG than wooing LeBron James away from the Cavs.”
Knicks For Sale? Or Not?
According to Forbes magazine, the Knicks are currently valued at $3.6 billion, which is tops in the NBA. The Rangers are one of the most valued NHL teams at $1.55 billion. Dolan mentioned the price tag for the Knicks is in the $5 billion range.
“Never got a bona fide offer,” Dolan said. “But that number is accurate.”
Rumors are that Dolan will not sell the Knicks until his father Charles passes away.
“I can tell you that nobody in my family wants to sell the Knicks and Rangers,” said Dolan. “It’s not just my dad. It’s the whole family.”
When the ESPN article dropped, Dolan released a statement that said, “There are no plans to sell the Knicks.”