The answer to this question was, er, yeah. That and several other streetish disses, exactly the sort of “gutter filth” that suddenly prissy Post columnists refer to as “unprintable.”
It could have been predicted. Following last season’s uninspiring non-playoff finish, Dolan, citing “character issues,” banished Spree, who had semi-heart-rendingly risen above his coach-choking past to become New York’s No. 1 fan favorite. Not one to take such slights lying down and suspecting that Dolan timed Isiah’s hiring to upstage his Garden return, Spree said the tirade was payback.
“He talked about me. Tonight was my turn to talk. I think I got my point across,” Latrell recapped after the game. It was nothing against the Knicks players, the New York fans, or Isiah, Spree said. He wished Isiah luck fixing the team, not that it was going to be easy, “the hole they’re in.” Chris Rock, standing with Spike Lee and perhaps 50 newsmen, seemed put out that Spree would be fined for his outburst. “They’re going to take money for cursing?” the comedian remarked. “I curse, and they give me money.”
Indeed, certain disgruntled factions of Knicks Nation were of the opinion that Dolan, whose belovedness as a New York sports figure does not approach that of, say, George Steinbrenner or even Horace Stoneham, had some of Spree’s spew coming.
Rooting for teams with dumb, rapacious, and/or indifferent management, after all, is the fan’s curse. We’re talking long-term here. Sure, we’ll always have the integrationist heaven of the ’70–’73 teams, Jerry Lucas memorizing the phone book and all, but podunk franchises like the Warriors, Blazers, and SuperSonics have won championships while we haven’t. Thirty years and counting—that’s a fair piece down the road toward Red Sox hell. Things have been heading deeply south since Riley let Starks shoot two-for-eighteen in 1994. Such comprehensive futility can only be attributed to dim ownership, and Jim Dolan is seen as just the most recent in a long line of acumen-deficient Madison Square Garden corporate keepers.
He is, after all, the 46-year-old son of Charles Dolan, founder of Cablevision, which acquired full control of MSG and its teams from ITT, which got the company from Viacom, which took over Paramount, which was once called Gulf + Western (a.k.a. Engulf and Devour), which used to more or less own the Dominican Republic and employed as Garden chief one Alan “Bottom Line” Cohen, forever in fans’ hearts for saying he would rather turn a profit than see either the Knicks or Rangers make the playoffs. Before G+W, there was Madison Square Garden, Inc., led by Irving M. Felt, who pooh-poohed Louis Mumford’s complaint that demolishing the old Penn Station to build the current Garden represented “an act of irresponsible public vandalism.”
“Fifty years from now, when the new MSG is torn down,” Felt replied, “there will be a whole new group of architects to protest.”
This isn’t to blame a Johnny-come-lately like Jimmy Dolan (who could be seen fleeing his own building after the Timberwolves game even as infidel Spree stayed late to wish everyone, ushers included, a merry Christmas) for being a fortunate son, an existential positioning he shares with Jeff Wilpon, progeny of Fred, whose low-ball high-handedness is currently vexing Mets fans. It isn’t even Dolan’s fault that the game experience at MSG, the supposed round-ball temple, is a splitting headache of Office Depot truck races on Gardenvision and Knick City Dancers firing off T-shirt guns with two minutes left in a tie game, scuttling whatever suspense the actual players have managed to create.
It is possible, however, to blame Dolan—named in the January 13, 2003, issue of BusinessWeek as one of the country’s “worst managers”—for his extended endorsement of the aforementioned Scott Layden, one more chip off the old block (being the tight-lipped offspring of the effusive b-ball lifer Frank). What, really, is the Knicks fan, even one who grew up during the early sixties when G.O. tickets cost 50 cents and almost everyone on the team’s name began with a B (Bob Boozer, Donnie Butcher, Cleveland Buckner, Dave Budd, Al Butler, Jim Barnes, etc.), to make of Layden’s mind-boggling tenure? Was this a delayed makeup call for David Stern’s palming the Ping-Pong ball that gave us Patrick Ewing so many moons ago?