The back cover of yesterday's Daily News alleged that the New York Knicks purposefully withheld announcing the severity of Jeremy Lin's injury until after the deadline for subscribers to buy playoff tickets. Now that we know, we're all upset that Lin probably won't be back this season, but Knicks owner and Cablevision CEO James Dolan is pissed at the implication that his organization did something untoward in the meantime. In fact, in statements released by Dolan himself, MSG, and Cablevision, the notoriously hotheaded boss charges Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman with engaging in "a campaign of intimidation and extortion to effect a merger between [Dolan-owned] Newsday and the Daily News."
"I understand that there will always be those who are critical of anyone who owns a controlling interest in three New York sports franchises," said the always humble Dolan. "But, Mr. Zuckerman's attempts to parlay this into a favorable arrangement for himself could not be more misguided." MSG's statement insinuates that the games were going to sell out anyway, while the additional Cablevision reaction gets to the real dirt:
Today's story in the New York Daily News is just another in a long list of articles and cover stories designed to provoke Cablevision and The Madison Square Garden Company. Mr. Zuckerman has engaged in a campaign of intimidation and extortion to effect a merger between Newsday and the Daily News. He has made repeated overtures to Mr. Dolan and his executives to combine the operations with joint ownership and shared printing and editorial expense. This proposal was rejected multiple times.
In fact, at a Four Seasons lunch meeting on March 6, Mr. Zuckerman once again made his proposal, this time adding that “the bad press would end if we became joint owners” (a direct quote). Shortly thereafter, the Daily News ran a full front page with Mr. Dolan's picture as a centerpiece for a skull and crossbones graphic that included the word 'Toxic' in bold print. Today's back page story is just another in a series of these defamatory extortions.
In his response, Daily News editor Colin Myler said there has been "no more supportive a newspaper than the Daily News about Lin’s superb performances with the Knicks. As always, we will continue to report in a fair and independent editorial manner." Zuckerman has not responded directly, but keep your eyes on the cover of the Daily News, just in case.