Basketball and big business are both complicated things and, when combined, can make for a full-fledged clusterfrack. Rarely is this truer than in the brain of Jimmy Dolan, quarters so cavernous and labyrinthine that disgraced former GMs are able to burrow and hide for years beyond their useful lives, pulling strings and likely sexually harassing every passing neuron in a skirt. Attempting to interpret the thought processes that govern such a place is futile; we will likely never know exactly why the Knicks refused to match the three-year, $25 million offer sheet that has landed Jeremy Lin in Houston. How much of it was (misguided) strategy, how much was (misplaced) hubris, how much was (misallocated) dollars and cents? It’s quite plausible that JD himself, Straight Shooter though he may be, isn’t even sure.
So where to begin on yet another day when our team has left us baffled, long on angst and short on optimism? How angry to get at a decision that, while illogical, pales in comparison to at least a dozen others that have crippled the franchise worse than this one possibly could? How much indignation to direct at an owner who, to his credit, never really hesitated to throw open his purse strings until yesterday?
Are we spoiled children whose team has never before balked at the financial implications of buying us the shiniest new toy that was willing to sign a contract? Is Dolan just as fed up with the losing as we are and, as a result, has finally chosen to draw the line at paying tens of millions of dollars in 2014-15 for a point guard who still might be a glorified backup? Does the fact that it’s his team and his money provide adequate justification for his decision? Does he even need to hide behind the shoddy façade of “basketball reasons?”
Should we just shut up?
Basketball and big business are both complicated things. But it’s important to remember that, in the NBA, the former enables the latter. Without quality on the court, there is no quantity in the stands, in the ratings, in the financial statements. If James Dolan wants to let a player walk, it’s his team, his money. If he wants to forego a press conference and disseminate his reasoning through written statements, it’s his team, his money. If he wants to filter slanderous rumors through loyal (and in many cases, family owned) media outlets, it’s his team, his money. If he wants to create a professional environment where transparency and accountability are anathema, and where inflated and unreciprocated demands of player loyalty are cited whenever it’s expedient, it’s his team, his money.
It’s up to him to decide if that makes for good basketball. It’s up to him to decide if that makes for good business. And we have over a decade of results that speak for themselves.
Basketball and big business are both complicated things. Just ask Jimmy Dolan, who’s still trying to figure out both.