The 7 Most Eye-Opening Quotes From James Dolan’s NY Post Q&A

Mercurial and media-shy Knicks owner James Dolan spoke with Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post in a rare question and answer session published today. Rather than slog through the whole thing yourself, complete with JD and the Straight Shots references, we culled the seven best quotes from the piece, so you didn’t have to.


Mike Vaccaro: You’ve shown tolerance as an owner; [GM] Glen Sather had a lot of empty years with the Rangers before he showed success. Do you feel you’re more patient than an average owner?
James Dolan: I really don’t compare myself with other owners. I’ll bet you I’m more patient than Mikhail [Prokhorov] is of his team. Mostly, I think it does not pay to be impatient, because you destabilize your team. It’s not like the players don’t want to win, it’s not like the owner doesn’t want to win; everybody wants to win, so it’s a question of: Can you get there? With Mike, I think he can get us there. Mostly, I think Carmelo [Anthony] can get us there, and the other players can get us there, they’re going to have to jell and I think Mike can do a lot to get that to happen. Because he has their respect.

First up is when Vaccaro asks Dolan about his “tolerance” as an owner, a word not normally associated with the capricious head of the Knicks and Rangers and the President and CEO of Cablevision Systems. Here, Dolan gleans over his impulsive behavior, and says Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov as even more impatient. This isn’t the first mention of Prokhorov in the interview, either.


MV: How patient will you be with [Mike Woodson]? He understood when he took the job the expectations that go with it. Will you give him a long rope?
JD: I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players. They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that’s part of where the respect emanates from. And those are hard things to get from a coach. When a coach loses a team … that’s when a coach is kind of done.

Patience is a similar characteristic to the tolerance in the earlier question, specifically as regards the job security of Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who many feel is on the hot seat after New York’s 3-8 start. Remember, Dolan told his coaching staff and executives he wants a title this year. Through the first eleven games, they’ve been anything but title contenders and are now just trying to get back to .500 in order to have a shot at the playoffs.


MV: A few days before training camp you changed general managers; why do that so close to the start of camp? Did something change from the start of summer to the end?
JD: I didn’t time it, per se, like that. I’m surprised other folks were surprised about this. The general manager’s work doesn’t really occur at that time of year. If you’re going to change general managers that’s probably the right time to do it. The next available trade date is Dec. 15. You’ve just finished free agency and all that. It’s a lull period. The timing didn’t really have much to do with that. It was more about an initiative I have going on with both teams that I hired McKinsey & Company [a Manhattan-based global management consulting firm] for, because as I’ve gotten to look at both our organizations, it’s become apparent that we really need to reprocess both teams. We were using a lot of — not old, but “classic” methods and now with technology, and what’s available to a team to help improve, I didn’t think we were taking advantage of those things.

Dolan imperiously fired GM Glen Grunwald before the start of the 2013-14 season, even though Grunwald had played a significant role in New York’s roster changes this past offseason. Here, Dolan explains why he made the change to current GM Steve Mills. This is actually one of Dolan’s best answers because evaluating players and teams has been taken to a whole new level with the advent of advanced statistical models and SportVU cameras. Maybe Glen just wasn’t ready to usher in the age of technology for the Knicks? How else to explain that Andrea Bargnani trade?

Keep reading for Dolan’s thoughts on Prokhorov, Isaiah Thomas, and Amar’e Stoudemire.


MV: Do you think you’re a good owner?
JD: Yeah. I do.
MV: Why?
JD: I think I watch out for my fans. I try to give them a good product. I care for the teams. I’m emotionally involved and intellectually involved. I think an owner needs to be present. When an owner is not present that’s when things tend to go awry. The players, the coaches, the fans know there’s somebody in charge. They may not like what I’m doing but it’s much better than having nobody there. Nobody there just leaves you in despair.

HAH! What do you expect Dolan to answer when he’s asked if he’s a good owner? But Dolan’s reason why is even more hysterical, because the audacity to say, “I think I watch out for the fans,” is really unparallled. If you polled every Knicks fan and asked whether Dolan “looked out” for them, greater than 95 percent of them would answer with a resounding “no.” Still, you gotta admire Dolan for his willful head-in-the-sand approach.


MV: What are your impressions of Mikhail Prokhorov?
JD: I don’t get to see him much but he clearly wants to win, which is a good thing. He’s the only guy paying more taxes than we are which is a club I wouldn’t necessarily want to be part of with him (laughs). I think he wants to win, I know he wants to win, he wouldn’t be putting the resources in that he is otherwise. But, I mean, he’s still my competitor. As a person I kind of know him, I’ve had lunch with him but other than that I don’t really know him well.

This is a doozy. Prokhorov and Dolan have feuded ever since the Nets moved across the East River to Brooklyn — directly cutting into the Knick fan demographic. But now, with Prokhorov’s offseason acquisitions, his Nets are directly competing with Dolan’s Knicks. Dolan makes a series of backhanded compliments shrouded in his obvious contempt for his Russian counterpart in Brooklyn. Also, the “lunch” Dolan mentions with Prokhorov was actually mandated and refereed by Commissioner Stern.


MV: If you could take a mulligan on the $100 million Amar’e contract …
JD: Nope.
MV: Because the first year was that important?
JD: We would not be where we are today without Amar’e. That summer, the summer of “The Decision,” there were a whole bunch of free agents, and the guys put their thing together in Miami, and Amar’e agreed to come to the Knicks, gave us a launch pad by which we could convince the other guys like Tyson [Chandler] to come, and ultimately Carmelo to come play with us. Do I think Carmelo would have come if we didn’t have Amar’e? No, I don’t think he would’ve. These free agents, when you get to this level of player — the Carmelos, the LeBrons, the Durants — the first thing they want before the money or anything else is to be on a winning team. They’ve got to believe they have a shot.

Amar’e Stoudemire has the worst contract in the league right now. He’s making over $45 million over the next two seasons, but he’s so broken down, any return to greatness is improbable for the former All-Star. Yet, here is Dolan again defending his decision to hand Amar’e a $100 million contract in that acclaimed summer of 2010 free agency period. Dolan continues defend that decision and has nothing but complimentary things to say about STAT.


MV: And you surely know the panic that ensues when a Glen Grunwald gets fired and people wonder, “Is Isiah coming back?”
JD: I can’t control what’s in other people’s minds. I can tell you that he’s a friend of mine. We speak, but not as often as we used to because he’s really involved in other things now. We’ll message back and forth once in a while. We used to talk a lot more often. He seems to be moving into another phase of his life, he’s not as basketball-centric, he’s doing a lot of charity work, he got his masters [in education, from Cal-Berkeley], he actually uses me to bounce business ideas off of …
MV: Do you still consult him, too, about basketball ideas?
JD: Not really. For Isiah, I don’t know that he’ll ever be able to work in New York. I just don’t know that he’ll ever get a fair shake, going forward in New York?
MV: Do you think that’s unfair? He did lose a lot of games here.
JD: He lost a lot of games! OK. Do I think he deserves another shot? Yeah. It just can’t be here. And I think he’s talented. I think he’s particularly talented at finding basketball talent. But I think he’s probably dismayed at this point. But I don’t see him coming back to New York. I couldn’t do that to him, and I couldn’t do that to the organization. He would probably do it as my friend but I couldn’t do it to him or his family. And you know what the press would do here. We’re interested in getting better and that situation would be such a distraction that it would actually hinder our ability to get better.

This last quote concerns former coach and GM Isiah Thomas, who Knicks fans loathe even more than Dolan himself. Knicks fans don’t actually matter to the Knicks owner. Dolan doesn’t say anything negative about one of the worst GM’s in history, and even laments the fact he can’t bring Isiah back because the furor from fans would be too loud.

The fan’s owner just doesn’t really understand his team’s fans.

[New York Post]

Which Dolan answer is your favorite?

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