Considering the New York Knicks have been one of the worst teams in the NBA for many years, the decisions made by team owner James Dolan are often heavily criticized.
His recent call to not issue a statement on George Floyd‘s death has also been called into question, because the Knicks are reportedly the only NBA team besides the San Antonio Spurs that haven’t released a statement about him. Since last week, the nation has been roiled in protests in reaction to the viral video of Floyd gasping for breath as a white cop kneeled on his neck during the Black man’s fatal encounter with police on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dolan’s decision to remain silent at first upset his players and staff people, according to ESPN, so on Monday, June 1, he issued a letter to explain himself. In it, the 65-year-old said that as a sports franchise the Knicks are ill-equipped to properly address Floyd’s death.
“We know that some of you have asked about whether our company is going to make a public statement about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer,” the letter reads. “I want you to know, I realize the importance of this issue. Therefore, I want you to understand our internal position.”
“This is a turbulent time in our country,” it continued. “The coronavirus and civil unrest have taken their toll on our way of life. We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of a respectful and peaceful workplace. We always will.”
Dolan’s message seemed to stand in contrast to his previous interest in social justice matters that involve Black people. That’s because in 2014 he released a self-written blues song about the death of Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager who was killed by George Zimmerman in 2012.
After more backlash came Dolan’s way about Monday’s statement, he issued a second letter about why the Knicks didn’t issue a statement on Floyd, which was published by SNY.
“Yesterday, I made a sincere attempt to provide my perspective on a very difficult issue, one that has no easy answers,” wrote Dolan, who also owns the New York Rangers. “I know how important this topic is to so many, and I do not want there to be any confusion about where I as an individual, or we as a company stand. So let me be clear: we vehemently condemn and reject racism against anyone, period. It is against every value that we hold dear.
“My point yesterday was about actions, and the importance of living your values,” he added. “Racism is born of ignorance and it’s up to each of us to understand that the person working beside you is your equal without regard to color, or any of the other qualities that make us diverse.
“This is how we at MSG fight racism. We start with ourselves, and through our actions, we define who we are. That is how we can be an example to the wider world. That was the point of my message yesterday,” Dolan’s message concluded.