Saturday, July 21, 2012

Isola: With Dolan it's not business, it's personal - New York Daily News

 Jim Dolan, president of Madison Square Garden, awaits the arrival of his chauffer after visiting Sean Avery at St. Vincents Hospital on April 30, 2008. Avery, a player for the New York Rangers, suffered a ruptured spleen during a recent playoff game.

James Monroe Adams IV for New York Daily News

The Knicks can say it over and over: Letting Jeremy Lin go to Houston was a business decision. But saying it doesn't make it so. James Dolan felt betrayed by Lin and made an emotional decision in opting to let Lin walk.

Carmelo Anthony should have chosen his words more carefully when he decided last week to call Jeremy Lin’s contract with the Houston Rockets “ridiculous.”

Considering the way Melo handled his exit from the Denver Nuggets, and considering his 1-8 playoff record as the new savoir or the Knicks, I’m not sure he wants to go down that road of calling anything or anyone ridiculous. Should Anthony have been more supportive of another teammate? Perhaps. Although he was part of the small contingent that met with Lin in Los Angeles on the eve of free agency in what was clearly a recruiting pitch.

It doesn’t make Melo the leading candidate for teammate of the year, but it’s also unfair to blame him for Lin’s departure; and it’s beyond ridiculous to now say that the Knicks, more than ever, are Carmelo Anthony’s team.

It is simply not true.

No, what the Lin saga confirmed is that more than ever the Knicks are James Dolan’s team. And don’t you forget it.

Dolan’s basketball people make recommendations but ultimately it is Dolan who rules with an iron fist. Just ask Donnie Walsh, Mike D’Antoni and most recently, Jeremy Lin. Gone are the days when the executives at Madison Square Garden would go to great lengths to paint Dolan as a warm and cuddly hands-off owner. It was a smart way to shield Dolan from criticism when things went array even though the notion of Dolan not being involved in the day-to-day operations of the team is preposterous.

Over the last two years, Dolan has come out of hiding in an effort to become more like his pal, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, whose fingerprints are on every move Dallas makes. It was Dolan, of course, who insisted on opening and closing the Knicks’ highly anticipated meeting with then free agent LeBron James in Cleveland.

Dolan began his presentation to LeBron by reading off of index cards as opposed to Pat Riley who simply tossed his championship rings in front of him. Savvy Riles had LeBron at hello.

LeBron James Finals

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

LeBron James helps Pat Riley add one more ring to his collection.

Dolan’s response was to blame Walsh, confined to a wheelchair, for blowing their chance at LeBron. Seven months later, Dolan usurped Walsh’s authority and became the point man for the trade to acquire Anthony from the Nuggets.

Dolan liked the idea of suddenly being a basketball guy who could make deals for superstar players. But he’s also no longer the guy behind the curtain. He’s the guy out in front, and now he’ll face the consequences.

The fans aren’t blaming general manager Glen Grunwald, head coach Mike Woodson or even Dolan confidant Isiah Thomas for the ending Linsanity. The anger is being directed at Dolan, who was upset that Lin went back to the Rockets last to get the third year of his contract increased from $9.8 million to $14.9 million. The Garden’s unofficial response, leaked to their media friends, is that it was strictly a financial decision.

That certainly is a lot of money for a point guard with 25 career starts but we all know that Dolan wasn’t worried about the contract or the luxury tax. He felt betrayed and deceived and then made a decision based on emotion.

Now, MSG’s stock is falling and the confidence among Knick fans in ownership has never been lower. It’s no secret that Melo and Raymond Felton will be under the gun to perform. The same goes for Woodson and Amar’e Stoudemire. But no one will be feeling more pressure than the billionaire sitting along the baseline adjacent to the Knicks bench.

The one with his fingerprints all over this team.


Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Jeremy Lin (l.), Mike Woodson (c.) and Carmelo Anthony

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