Knicks owner James Dolan offers weak explanation for lack of statement on George Floyd's death

Sporting News

James Dolan never met a PR opportunity he didn't enjoy completely botching.

The Knicks owner has reportedly left players and employees "furious" because the team has not yet publicly commented on the death of George Floyd, according to ESPN's Pablo Torre. Dolan sent the following email to Madison Square Garden employees on Monday, per Torre:

"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. 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. The coronavirus and civil unrest have taken their toll on our way of life. We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of respect and peaceful workplace. We always will.

"As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters. What's important is how we operate. Our companies are committed to upholding our values, which include creating a respectful workplace for all, and that will never change. What we say to each other matters. How we treat each other matters. And that's what will get us through this difficult time."

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As of late Monday night, the Knicks and Spurs were the only NBA franchises to have not shared a statement following Floyd's death. However, San Antonio president and head coach Gregg Popovich spoke extensively with The Nation's Dave Zirin about issues plaguing the United States, calling President Donald Trump a "deranged idiot" and saying the "system has to change."

No such words emerged from anyone within the Knicks front office, though, because it all starts at the top with Dolan.

We are talking about a man who felt the need to share an official statement about Spike Lee using the correct entrance at MSG and post a photo apparently taken with a Motorola Razr like some sort of old spy footage.

We are talking about a man who felt the need to issue a formal denial about offering Richard Jefferson a contract after the longtime NBA forward joked about retiring rather than playing for the Knicks.

And we are talking about a man who sang about Trayvon Martin on his song "Under That Hood" as the frontman of JD & the Straight Shot.

"There's literally nowhere I won't go," Dolan told The New York Times in 2014 of the topics his music covers. Apparently Dolan felt plenty qualified to speak about social matters then.

Dolan could follow the lead of the Wizards and allow his players to deliver a direct, unified statement. Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. was seen at a Fayetteville, N.C. protest last week, and it's likely his teammates also feel strongly about what has happened to Floyd and so many other African-American citizens in the country.

As the email stated, "what we say to each other matters." If Dolan isn't going to speak up, he should give someone else a platform.

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