It’s too bad that the Knicks managed to win back-to-back games in recent days. Grouchy fans who ought to be screaming for change found themselves cheering on Monday night when the Knicks beat the Utah Jazz. The win may have inspired fans to forget just how bad this team has been, and what a disgrace the organization has become.
Even if the Knicks are showing signs of life, no amount of good play on the court can make up for the incompetence and scandalous behavior that has tarred this once classy organization. Thanks to the bizarre leadership of James Dolan, chairman of Madison Square Garden, and the antics of team president and coach Isiah Thomas, it will take years before the Knicks return to the honored place they once held in the city’s civic life. Unless, that is, Mr. Thomas finds himself out of a job sometime soon, and Mr. Dolan can be persuaded to move to another corner of the vast Cablevision empire, of which the Garden is a part.
The Knicks’ recent eight-game losing streak, during which star point guard Stephon Marbury actually abandoned the team briefly because he was removed from the starting lineup, was a reminder of just how awful things have become under the Dolan-Thomas regime. The Knicks have made the playoffs just once since 2001. Mr. Dolan hired Mr. Thomas in 2003 to revive the team’s fortunes, but things have only gotten worse.
The true measure of the team’s decline is not just a matter of wins and losses. Last summer, Mr. Thomas and the Garden were sued by a former executive who accused Mr. Thomas of sexual harassment and the Garden of firing her when she complained. Mr. Dolan chose to contest the suit; that decision led to a guilty verdict and an $11.6 million payment to the ex-employee.
It wasn’t just the verdict that damaged the Garden’s already dismal reputation since Mr. Dolan made the arena his little hobby. Testimony portrayed the Garden as a latter-day Animal House, where male employees regularly used vulgar language to describe female colleagues. Mr. Dolan, who has a reputation for hot-tempered behavior, doesn’t appear concerned about the damage the lawsuit has done to the Garden’s image.
The Dolan era has been an unmitigated disaster for Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have become a bad team and a bad organization, a disgrace to the team’s history.
Getting rid of Mr. Thomas would be a step in the right direction. Finding a new toy for Mr. Dolan would be even better.