Eons ago, the New York Knicks were the toast of the Big Apple.
They won two NBA championships in 1970 and 1973 with a legendary team headlined by Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, and Walt Frazier, and in the 1990s, they were perennial contenders behind Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing.
But for the last two decades, the Knicks have been an NBA laughingstock due to mismanagement and bad decisions.
In the eyes of many, the blame starts at the top with owner James Dolan, and fans throughout the Tri-State Area have been wanting him to sell the team for a long time.
As it turns out, there could be a glimmer of hope in that regard.
Jonathan Boyar, a longtime MSG (Madison Square Garden) Entertainment analyst, says the unpopular owner may sell the Knicks very soon.
“We think it’s likely that after that is done, James Dolan, who controls the company, will sell the teams”
— Longtime MSG analyst Jonathan Boyar tells CNBC that Knicks & Rangers parent MSG Sports likely to sell after Vegas concert venue MSG Sphere is completed next year pic.twitter.com/p9eP5geBZn
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) August 16, 2022
“Their (the Knicks and New York Rangers, which are both owned by Madison Square Garden Sports) sister company, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, is currently about to finish a project in Las Vegas called ‘The Sphere,’ and we think it’s likely that after that is done, James Dolan, who controls the company, will sell the teams,” said Boyar.
If and when Dolan sells the Knicks to a more competent owner, fans might as well throw a ticker-tape parade down Midtown, because it will be the first step back to respectability for the embattled franchise.
Dolan’s Reign Of Terror
Dolan became the CEO of Cablevision in 1995, which acquired 50 percent ownership of Madison Square Garden around the same time and full ownership a couple of years later.
In 1999, he became the chairman of MSG, making him, in effect, the owner of the Knicks.
At the time, the team was going through the tail-end of the Ewing era, and that year, it unexpectedly reached the NBA Finals after Ewing suffered a season-ending injury.
The 1999-2000 season was the Knicks’ last real hurrah, as they won 50 games and lost to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After that, it has felt like a long nightmare full of misstep after misstep.
They have given out bad contracts, such as the six-year $100 million maximum contract given to aging star Allan Houston in 2001, as well as the contract given to center Eddy Curry in the mid-2000s.
Curry was acquired in 2005 for three players, two future first-round draft picks, and two second-round picks.
He was a big disappointment, and it is fair to say the Knicks were big losers in that deal.
They were also criticized for giving up lots of capital to trade for Carmelo Anthony during the 2010-11 season when they could’ve signed him as a free agent the following summer.
Anthony played well as a Knick, but they won only one playoff series in his six-and-a-half seasons with them.
Then there are Dolan’s personal incidents with former players and fans.
In 2017, he got into an altercation in the stands with Charles Oakley, one of the team’s most beloved ex-players, and had security throw him out of the Garden.
Never forget when James Dolan allowed security to throw Charles Oakley out of MSG. pic.twitter.com/lVTujGqqo3
— ThrowbackHoops (@ThrowbackHoops) March 3, 2020
Two years later, a fan told him to sell the team, and he threatened to ban him from attending any more Knicks games.
So a Knicks fan gets banned from MSG after today's game for telling James Dolan to "Sell the team". Wow. pic.twitter.com/4hHpyt8jFh
— Knicks Fan TV 🏀🎥📺🏁 (@KnicksFanTv) March 10, 2019
Can The Knicks Be Remade Into A Contender?
New York is coming off a disappointing season in which it finished 37-45 and missed the playoffs.
First is Julius Randle, who had a career year in the 2020-21 season but regressed last year and has a big contract that he may not be able to justify.
There is also Evan Fournier, who did well statistically but has been the subject of trade rumors.
Everyone is hoping for a Donovan Mitchell trade, but the Jazz may not be interested in Randle.
In reality, it may take several years for the Knicks to become contenders, and that would take some serious vision and planning on the part of the front office.
It’s hard to imagine Dolan being a part of a sound strategy like that.