I grew up loving the New York Knicks and Rangers, at one time the only winter sports options in a city known for options in baseball for decades and for football once Joe Namath came into the picture. As anyone who maintains such loyalty to this day, of which I know plenty of you readers still do, you have both my support and my sympathy.
After all, it’s now been a combined 81 years since either team has won a championship. The Rangers, who broke a 54-year schneid with a stirring pair of series against the hated New Jersey Devils and then the Vancouver Canucks, are now working on 30 years since that accomplishment, and after getting off to a strong start where a month ago they had the best record in the NHL they have now regressed to merely a division leader and heading in the wrong direction. The Knicks? Well, they their recent uptick in the wake of the O.G. Anunoby trade, they have rebounded enough to be in the conversation for what would be a second consecutive post-season berth for only the second time this century, but it’s still been a half-century and counting since they were able to hoist a championship banner in their aging but iconic Madison Square Garden home.
And the common link to all of this has been the owner and chief executive, James Dolan, the very definition of a child born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The son of a cable television pioneer who also allowed him to control the cable systems and the coveted New York suburban viewers that he grew up entitled and coddled among, who has fancied himself as a musician as well as a basketball savant and media mogul, he’s often been in the news for many other reasons besides his meddling and impatience with coaches and management.
I’ve been willing to tolerate when he fought tooth and nail to ban a Knicks legend from the almost-championship 90s from attending games in person, and was willing to accept his version of the narrative that he shared seven years ago that almost justified it.
And just last week, I’ve been willing to accept the fact that justice was still being sought on behalf of other loyal fans, as the NEW YORK POST’s Rich Calder updated us on:
A federal judge this week greenlighted a data-privacy lawsuit that Madison Square Garden once ripped as “the dumbest suit yet.”
In a 27-page opinion released Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott sided against MSG Entertainment’s motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit accusing owner James Dolan of violating a city privacy law that prohibits using biometric data for personal gain.
Dolan is under fire for his controversial use of creepy facial-recognition software to bar unwelcome attorneys and critics from entering Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.
If indeed he was willing to pay attention to how other owners are planning to use technology to gain a homecourt advantage, he might have been inspired by the news that his local NBC O and O’s Eric Mullin broke earlier this week:
After sharing Crypto.com Arena with the Lakers since 1999, the Clippers are moving into a brand new stadium, the Intuit Dome, in the 2024-25 campaign. It was announced on Tuesday that the Intuit Dome will host the 2026 NBA All-Star Game. The team recently announced details of an exclusive section of the arena called “The Wall.” Located behind one of the baskets, The Wall will be “51 uninterrupted rows of passionate Clippers fans” and include a standing-only section to “house 300 of our most energetic fans who will cheer loudly,” according to the team’s website. The Wall, which will hold up to 4,500 fans in total, has a strict set of rules, too. Those seated there won’t be permitted to cheer for or wear the gear of opposing teams.
But in the wake of yesterday’s news flash, as trumpeted by CBS SPORTS’ Jasmyn Wimbish, all of that other crap is now saddeningly immaterial:
Dolan was named in a lawsuit filed in California alleging that he sexually assaulted and trafficked a masseuse. The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 16 and claims that in November 2013 Dolan sexually assaulted the plaintiff, Kellye Croft, while his band was on tour with The Eagles. In that instance, the lawsuit alleges that while Croft was massaging Dolan the Knicks team owner was “extremely assertive, and pressured Ms. Croft into unwanted sexual intercourse with him,” despite her being adamant that she did not want to engage in any sexual activity with him. Following that incident, according to the lawsuit, Dolan repeatedly made sexual advances toward Croft.
In another incident at end of 2013, the lawsuit states that Croft was flown out to California in what she thought was to work as a massage therapist. However, the lawsuit states those were “fradulent pretenses” and instead Croft was “trafficked” by Dolan to “engage in unlawful and unwelcome sex acts with her.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Dolan “fraudulently coordinated” a meeting between Croft and convicted sex offender and former movie producer Harvey Weinstein in January 2014, which led to Croft being sexually assaulted by Weinstein. The lawsuit alleges that Dolan knew about Weinstein’s history of sexually assaulting and abusing women, and when Croft alerted Dolan of the sexual assault by Weinstein he did nothing about it.
“I have suffered so profoundly because of what James Dolan and Harvey Weinstein did to me years ago, and it was not an easy decision to come forward and seek justice,” Croft said in a statement. “But for me, to truly address my trauma, I need to seek accountability. James Dolan manipulated me, brought me to California to abuse me, and then set me up for a vicious attack by Weinstein. My hope is that my lawsuit will force Dolan to acknowledge what he did to me and to take responsibility for the harm he has caused.
Unsurprisingly, Dolan’s already lawyered up and issuing denials. Per FOX NEWS’ Ryan Dorik:
“There is absolutely no merit to any of the allegations against Mr. Dolan,” Dolan’s attorney, Danya Perry, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship. The references to Harvey Weinstein are simply meant to inflame and appear to be plagiarized from prior cases against Mr. Weinstein. These claims reflect an act of retaliation by an attorney who has brought multiple cases against Mr. Dolan and has not, and cannot, win a judgement (sic) against him. Mr. Dolan always believed Ms. Croft to be a good person and is surprised she would agree to these claims. Bottom line, this is not a he said/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to back up our position. We look forward to proving that in court.”
As someone who has seen a clearly inebriated Dolan take several futile swings at someone who hosted him for an off-site conference, let alone personally known plenty of one-time employees of his cable networks who haven’t exactly benefitted as long-term or as happily as he has, let’s just say I probably wouldn’t be selected for a jury trial. Which, of course, the man known as “Guitar Jimmy” is entitled to.
But take a little advice, Jimbo. You may want to borrow a page from your friend Harvey for how to look to curry more sympathy.
And you may wanna spend less time around your teams in order to prepare better for your “open and shut” defense. I hear you’ve got a cool new status symbol that’s getting rave reviews in Las Vegas. Maybe put your new image front and center there? You wouldn’t even need facial recognition software.
After all, why ruin it any more for your loyal fans than you already have?